Why Does Field of Study Affect Occupational Attainment? A Theoretical Approach

27 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2014

See all articles by Carlo Barone

Carlo Barone

University of Trento

Steffen Schindler

University of Bamberg

Date Written: October 19, 2014


In analyses of labour market returns to education three competing theoretical approaches dominate the empirical research literature: education as productive skills, education as positional good, and social closure. We argue that, while these approaches might be suitable to explain the mechanisms behind labour market returns to vertical differences in educational levels, they are not appropriate to account for variation in labour market returns if field of study as a horizontal dimension of education is considered. We present a theoretical approach that addresses this horizontal dimension of education by disentangling the various mechanisms behind the field of study differences in graduates’ labour market returns.

Keywords: field of study, graduate labour market, labour market outcomes, theory

JEL Classification: E24, I20, J31, J40

Suggested Citation

Barone, Carlo and Schindler, Steffen, Why Does Field of Study Affect Occupational Attainment? A Theoretical Approach (October 19, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2513906 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2513906

Carlo Barone

University of Trento ( email )

Via Giuseppe Verdi 26
Trento, Trento 38152

Steffen Schindler (Contact Author)

University of Bamberg ( email )

Feldkirchenstr. 21
Bamberg, 96052

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