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Modeling College Major Choices Using Elicited Measures of Expectations and Counterfactuals

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Author Info

  • V. Joseph Hotz
  • Peter Arcidiacono
  • Songman Kang

Abstract

The choice of a college major plays a critical role in determining the future earnings of college graduates. Students make their college major decisions in part due to the future earnings streams associated with the different majors. We survey students about what their expected earnings would be both in the major they have chosen and in counterfactual majors. We also elicit students’ subjective assessments of their abilities in chosen and counterfactual majors. We estimate a model of college major choice that incorporates these subjective expectations and assessments. We show that both expected earnings and students’ abilities in the different majors are important determinants of student’s choice of a college major. We also show that students’ forecast errors with respect to expected earnings in different majors is potentially important, with our estimates suggesting that 7.5% of students would switch majors if they made no forecast errors.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Duke University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 10-30.

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Length: 31
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:duk:dukeec:10-30

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Department of Economics Duke University 213 Social Sciences Building Box 90097 Durham, NC 27708-0097
Phone: (919) 660-1800
Fax: (919) 684-8974
Web page: http://econ.duke.edu/

Related research

Keywords: Choice of college major; subjective expectations;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Amine Ouazad & Lionel Page, 2012. "Students’ Perceptions of Teacher Biases: Experimental Economics in Schools," CEE Discussion Papers 0133, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  2. Meyer, Tobias & Thomsen, Stephan L., 2012. "How Important is Secondary School Duration for Post-school Education Decisions? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Diskussionspapiere der Wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Leibniz Universität Hannover dp-509, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  3. Sjoquist, David L. & Winters, John V., 2013. "State Merit-Aid Programs and College Major: A Focus on STEM," IZA Discussion Papers 7381, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd R. Stinebrickner, 2014. "A Major in Science? Initial Beliefs and Final Outcomes for College Major and Dropout," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 426-472.
  5. Jürg Schweri & Stefan C. Wolter & Joop Hartog, 2008. "Do Students Expect Compensation for Wage Risk?," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0011, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
  6. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2013. "Academic Performance and College Dropout: Using Longitudinal Expectations Data to Estimate a Learning Model," NBER Working Papers 18945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Borghans, Lex & Golsteyn, Bart H.H. & Stenberg, Anders, 2013. "Does Expert Advice Improve Educational Choice?," IZA Discussion Papers 7649, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Joshua Congdon-Hohman & Anil Nathan & Justin Svec, 2013. "Student Uncertainty and Major Choice," Working Papers 1301, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
  9. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2011. "Math or Science? Using Longitudinal Expectations Data to Examine the Process of Choosing a College Major," NBER Working Papers 16869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Bartolj, Tjaša & Polanec, Sašo, 2012. "College major choice and ability: Why is general ability not enough?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 996-1016.

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