The Private and Social Benefits of Double Majors

50 Pages Posted: 21 May 2016

See all articles by Alison F. Del Rossi

Alison F. Del Rossi

Saint Lawrence University - Department of Economics

Joni Hersch

Vanderbilt University - Law School; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 8, 2016

Abstract

With increased emphasis on encouraging students to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), there is a general concern that society is losing the benefits associated with liberal arts education. One possible approach to achieving the benefits of higher-paying STEM degrees along with the social benefits of liberal arts training is to encourage double majoring among college students. Double majoring is common at about 20 percent of college graduates, yet most double majors are in related areas that provide limited educational diversity. We examine private and social benefits of double majoring using data from the 2010 National Survey of College Graduates. The strongest positive relations associated with combining a liberal arts major with a business or STEM major are on research and development activities and on job match. In addition, we find that students who double major in business and STEM earn a premium over those single majors. However, combining a liberal arts major with STEM or business fields does not increase earnings, indicating little private earnings incentive for students to combine STEM or business majors with liberal arts.

Keywords: College major, double major, liberal arts, returns to education, education externalities, social returns

JEL Classification: I26, J240, H40, H23

Suggested Citation

Del Rossi, Alison F. and Hersch, Joni, The Private and Social Benefits of Double Majors (March 8, 2016). Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, Forthcoming; Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 16-16; Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 16-31. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2782141

Alison F. Del Rossi

Saint Lawrence University - Department of Economics ( email )

One Romoda Drive
Canton, NY 13617
United States

Joni Hersch (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-343-7717 (Phone)
615-322-6631 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/go/phdlawecon

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States

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