Does Exposure to Economics Bring New Majors to the Field? Evidence from a Natural Experiment

28 Pages Posted: 4 May 2015

See all articles by Hans Fricke

Hans Fricke

University of St. Gallen - Swiss Institute for Empirical Economic Research; Stanford University

Jeffrey Grogger

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Andreas Steinmayr

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

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Abstract

This study investigates how being exposed to a field of study influences students' major choices. We exploit a natural experiment at a Swiss university where all first-year students face largely the same curriculum before they choose a major. An important component of the first-year curriculum that varies between students involves a multi-term research paper in business, economics, or law. Due to oversubscription of business, the university assigns the field of the paper in a standardized way that is unrelated to student characteristics. We find that being assigned to write in economics raises the probability of majoring in economics by 2.7 percentage points, which amounts to 18 percent of the share of students who major in economics.

Keywords: major choice, economics, law, higher education, gender differences

JEL Classification: A20, I20, I23

Suggested Citation

Fricke, Hans and Grogger, Jeffrey T. and Steinmayr, Andreas, Does Exposure to Economics Bring New Majors to the Field? Evidence from a Natural Experiment. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2601689

Hans Fricke (Contact Author)

University of St. Gallen - Swiss Institute for Empirical Economic Research ( email )

Varnb├╝elstr. 14
St.Gallen, CH-9000
Switzerland

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Jeffrey T. Grogger

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Andreas Steinmayr

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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