Does the Field of Study Influence Students' Political Attitudes?
39 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2015
Date Written: October 12, 2015
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: Suggested Citation