College Majors

68 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2020 Last revised: 16 Jul 2021

See all articles by Arpita Patnaik

Arpita Patnaik

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Economics

Matthew Wiswall

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Basit Zafar

Arizona State University (ASU) - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 2020

Abstract

This article reviews the recent literature on the determinants of college major choices. We first highlight long-term trends and persistent differences in college major choices by gender, race, and family background. We then review the existing research in six key areas: expected earnings and ability sorting, learning, subjective expectations, non-pecuniary considerations, peer and family effects, and supply side factors. We examine and compare the various approaches employed by previous research and highlight key areas for future research.

Institutional subscribers to the NBER working paper series, and residents of developing countries may download this paper without additional charge at www.nber.org.

Suggested Citation

Patnaik, Arpita and Wiswall, Matthew and Zafar, Basit, College Majors (August 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27645, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3670480

Arpita Patnaik (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Economics ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706
United States

Matthew Wiswall

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Economics ( email )

William H. Sewell Social Science Building
1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Basit Zafar

Arizona State University (ASU) - Department of Economics ( email )

AZ
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
11
Abstract Views
168
PlumX Metrics