Does the Field of Study Influence Students' Political Attitudes?

39 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2015

See all articles by Mira Fischer

Mira Fischer

University of Cologne - Department of Business Administration and Human Resource Management

Bjoern Kauder

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute

Niklas Potrafke

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute

Heinrich W. Ursprung

University of Konstanz; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: October 12, 2015

Abstract

We investigate whether the field of study influences university students’ political attitudes. To disentangle self-selection from learning effects, we first investigate whether the fields of study chosen by the incoming students correlate with their political attitudes. In a second step we explore how the political attitudes change as the students progress in their studies. Our results are based on a German pseudo-panel survey, the sample size of which exceeds that of comparable student surveys by an order of magnitude. We find systematic differences between the students’ political attitudes across eight fields of study. These differences can in most cases be attributed to self-selection. A notable exception is economics. Even though self-selection is also important, training in economics has an unambiguous influence on the political attitudes: by the time of graduation, economics students are about 6.2 percentage points more likely than they were as freshmen to agree with liberal-democratic policy positions.

Keywords: indoctrination, nature versus nurture, field of study, polical socialization, political attitudes, economics

JEL Classification: A130, A220, D720, Z130

Suggested Citation

Fischer, Mira and Kauder, Bjoern and Potrafke, Niklas and Ursprung, Heinrich, Does the Field of Study Influence Students' Political Attitudes? (October 12, 2015). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5545. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2686439

Mira Fischer

University of Cologne - Department of Business Administration and Human Resource Management ( email )

Koln, 50923
Germany

Bjoern Kauder

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Niklas Potrafke (Contact Author)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Heinrich Ursprung

University of Konstanz ( email )

Konstanz, D-78457
Germany
+49 7531 88 3713 (Phone)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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