College Major Competitiveness and Attrition from the Sciences

34 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2012 Last revised: 3 May 2013

See all articles by Marc Luppino

Marc Luppino

Federal Trade Commission

Richard H. Sander

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Date Written: April 16, 2013

Abstract

This paper examines how the competitiveness of distinct college majors at a student’s college affects her major choice and other college outcomes. To mitigate the selection problem, we control for very flexible application-admissions pattern fixed effects to account for student unobservables, as well as school-specific fixed effects to account for typically unobservable institutional characteristics that are plausibly correlated with peer quality and student outcomes. We find that students initially interested in pursuing a science major respond to the competitiveness of both the broad science and non-science major tracks. Weaker, non-minority students typically respond to greater competition in the sciences by shifting their major choice. Under-represented minorities tend to persist in the sciences regardless of competition, but suffer -- often substantially -- in terms of college grades and the likelihood of graduating.

Keywords: College Major Competitiveness, Higher Education, Mismatch, Peer Effects, Science, STEM

JEL Classification: I21, J24

Suggested Citation

Luppino, Marc and Sander, Richard H., College Major Competitiveness and Attrition from the Sciences (April 16, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2167961 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2167961

Marc Luppino (Contact Author)

Federal Trade Commission ( email )

601 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
NJ-4136
Washington, DC 20580
United States

Richard H. Sander

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
111
Abstract Views
558
rank
251,081
PlumX Metrics