Educational Research and Reviews

  • Abbreviation: Educ. Res. Rev.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1990-3839
  • DOI: 10.5897/ERR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 2008

Full Length Research Paper

Graduate careers during the post-communist transition in the South Caucasus

Jochen Tholen1, Dilara Huseynzade2, Anar Ibrahimov2, Gary Pollock3 and Ken Roberts4*
  1University of Bremen, Germany. 2Caucasus Research Resource Centre, Baku, USA. 3Manchester Metropolitan University, England. 4School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Liverpool, Eleanor Rathbone Building, Bedford Street South, Liverpool, L69 7ZA, England.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 19 January 2010
  •  Published: 31 March 2010



This paper uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative evidence to assess the ways and extent to which, by 2007/2008, higher education graduates in the South Caucasus capitals were, and were not, deriving labour market benefits from their higher education. The quantitative evidence is from representative samples of approximately 200 in the age range 31 - 37 who were living in each of the three capital cities (Baku, Tbilisi and Yerevan) in 2005 - 2007. The qualitative evidence is from 10 follow-up interviews in 2008 with selected higher education graduates from the preceding quantitative surveys. The evidence shows that the benefits of higher education were: much superior chances of having been continuously employed since entering the labour market, being in full-time employment in 2007/2008, and holding a non-manual job. Graduates were also more likely than non-graduates to have jobs in the public sector. However, the earnings of graduate employees were not consistently (across all three cities and among males and females) higher than the earnings of employed non-graduates, there was considerable under-employment among graduates in all three capitals, and graduate females who had married (between 70 and 76% in the three capitals had married by age 30) had nearly all withdrawn from the workforce. The paper explains how family and housing practices in the South Caucasus were requiring female graduates to prioritise marriage rather than employment careers in their life plans. We conclude that while higher education was conferring definite labour market benefits for both males and females, and in all three cities, these benefits varied by gender. Moreover, graduate under-employment had not been eliminated, and looked unlikely to be eliminated despite the strong economic growth that was continuing in all three countries.


Key words: Higher education, labour market careers, South Caucasus, post-communism.