Major Malfunction: A Field Experiment Correcting Undergraduates' Beliefs about Salaries

33 Pages Posted: 11 May 2017 Last revised: 26 Mar 2019

Date Written: July 10, 2018

Abstract

I test, in a field experiment at a flagship state university in the US, whether providing college students salary information can affect their choices of major and classes. I find that undergraduates are substantially misinformed about mean salaries by major. On average, students in my sample underestimate mean salaries, but there is also large heterogeneity in beliefs across individuals. I also find that providing information to correct these errors has a large impact on students’ choices; students in the treatment group were nine percentage points (16%) more likely to major in a field about which they received information.

Keywords: College Major, Information, Field Experiment, Education

JEL Classification: I26, C93, D83

Suggested Citation

Conlon, John, Major Malfunction: A Field Experiment Correcting Undergraduates' Beliefs about Salaries (July 10, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2965743 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2965743

John Conlon (Contact Author)

Harvard University

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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