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College Major Choice and Ability: Why is General Ability not Enough?

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  • Tjasa Loga
  • Saso Polanec

Abstract

The choice of college major is one of the most important decisions students make. In this paper we study the impact of ability on college major choice,using a data set for full-time students enrolled in four-year business and economics programs offered by the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana. We distinguish between general and major-specific ability, which measure different dimensions of cognitive ability. We show that both measures are important in explaining individual decisions and that misleading results can follow from observing only commonly employed general ability. We also find important gender differences as males are more likely to base their major choice on the ability to complete coursework, while females are more likely to decide according to unobserved preferences.

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Paper provided by LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven in its series LICOS Discussion Papers with number 27411.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:lic:licosd:27411

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Keywords: College Majors; Ability; Gender Differences;

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  2. Fry, Tim R. L. & Harris, Mark N., 1996. "A Monte Carlo study of tests for the independence of irrelevant alternatives property," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 19-30, February.
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  16. Thomas N. Daymonti & Paul J. Andrisani, 1984. "Job Preferences, College Major, and the Gender Gap in Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(3), pages 408-428.
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