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Heterogeneity in Human Capital Investments: High School Curriculum, College Major, and Careers

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Author Info

  • Joseph G. Altonji

    ( Department of Economics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520)

  • Erica Blom

    ( Department of Economics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520)

  • Costas Meghir

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University College London, WC1E 6BT London, United Kingdom)

Abstract

Motivated by the large differences in labor market outcomes across college majors, we survey the literature on the demand for and return to high school and postsecondary education by field of study. We combine elements from several papers to provide a dynamic model of education and occupation choice that stresses the roles of the specificity of human capital and uncertainty about preferences, ability, education outcomes, and labor market returns. The model implies an important distinction between the ex ante and ex post returns to education decisions. We also discuss some of the econometric difficulties in estimating the causal effects of field of study on wages in the context of a sequential choice model with learning. Finally, we review the empirical literature on the choice of curriculum and the effects of high school courses and college major on labor market outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Annual Reviews in its journal Annual Review of Economics.

Volume (Year): 4 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (07)
Pages: 185-223

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Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:4:y:2012:p:185-223

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Related research

Keywords: dynamic discrete choice; returns to education; occupational choice;

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References

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  1. Meer, Jonathan, 2007. "Evidence on the returns to secondary vocational education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 559-573, October.
  2. Zietz, Joachim & Joshi, Prathibha, 2005. "Academic choice behavior of high school students: economic rationale and empirical evidence," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 297-308, June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Eika, Lasse & Mogstad, Magne & Zafar, Basit, 2014. "Educational assortative mating and household income inequality," Staff Reports 682, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. Joensen, Juanna Schrøter & Nielsen, Helena Skyt, 2013. "Math and Gender: Is Math a Route to a High-Powered Career?," IZA Discussion Papers 7164, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. MORIKAWA Masayuki, 2013. "Postgraduate Education, Labor Participation, and Wages: An empirical analysis using micro data from Japan," Discussion papers 13065, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  4. Massimo Anelli & Giovanni Peri, 2013. "Gender of Siblings and Choice of College Major," CESifo Working Paper Series 4529, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Ferrer, Ana M. & Menendez, Alicia, 2009. "The Returns to Flexible Postsecondary Education: The Effect of Delaying School," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2009-26, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 15 Mar 2009.
  6. Holzer, Harry J. & Dunlop, Erin, 2013. "Just the Facts, Ma'am: Postsecondary Education and Labor Market Outcomes in the U.S," IZA Discussion Papers 7319, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Andrew Rendall & Michelle Rendall, 2014. "Math matters: education choices and wage inequality," ECON - Working Papers 160, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  8. Courtioux, Pierre & Gregoir, Stéphane & Houeto, Dede, 2014. "Modelling the distribution of returns on higher education: A microsimulation approach," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 328-340.
  9. Torberg Falch & Ole Henning Nyhus & Bjarne Strom, 2013. "Causal effects of mathematics," Working Paper Series 15013, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
  10. Meta Brown & Wilbert van der Klaauw & Jaya Wen & Basit Zafar, 2013. "Financial education and the debt behavior of the young," Staff Reports 634, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  11. Bleemer, Zachary & Zafar, Basit, 2014. "Information heterogeneity and intended college enrollment," Staff Reports 685, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  12. Justine S. Hastings & Christopher A. Neilson & Seth D. Zimmerman, 2013. "Are Some Degrees Worth More than Others? Evidence from college admission cutoffs in Chile," NBER Working Papers 19241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Antecol, Heather & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A., 2013. "Do psychosocial traits help explain gender segregation in young people's occupations?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 59-73.

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