Determinants of College Major Choice: Identification Using an Information Experiment
New York University (NYU); Statistics Norway; New York University (NYU) - Institute for Education and Social Policy
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
March 20, 2012
This paper studies the determinants of college major choice using an experimentally generated panel of beliefs, obtained by providing students with information on the true population distribution of various major-specific characteristics. Students logically revise their beliefs in response to the information, and their subjective beliefs about future major choice are associated with beliefs about their own earnings and ability. We estimate a rich model of college major choice using the belief data. While earnings are a significant determinant of major choice, tastes -- which are heterogeneous -- are the dominant factor in the choice of major. We also investigate gender differences in major choice.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 60
Keywords: college majors, information, uncertainty, risk, subjective expectations, marriage market returns, gender differences
JEL Classification: D81, D84, I21, I23, J10working papers series
Date posted: August 31, 2011 ; Last revised: January 30, 2013
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