Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Discovering One's Talent: Learning from Academic Specialization

Contents:

Author Info

  • Ofer Malamud
Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    In addition to providing useful skills, education may also yield valuable information about one's tastes and talents. This paper exploits an exogenous difference in the timing of academic specialization within the British system of higher education to test whether education provides such information. I develop a model in which individuals, by taking courses in different fields of study, accumulate field-specific skills and receive noisy signals of match quality to these fields. Distinguishing between educational regimes with early and late specialization, I derive comparative static predictions about the likelihood of switching to an occupation that is unrelated to one's field of study. If higher education serves mainly to provide specific skills, the model predicts more switching in a regime with late specialization because the cost of switching is lower in terms of foregone skills. Using survey and administrative data on university graduates, I find that individuals from Scotland, where specialization occurs relatively late, are less likely to switch to an unrelated occupation compared to their English counterparts who specialize early. This implies that the benefits to increased match quality are sufficiently large to outweigh the greater loss in skills from specializing early, and thus confirms the important role of higher education in helping students discover their own tastes and talents.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15522.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15522.

    as in new window
    Length:
    Date of creation: Nov 2009
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: published as Discovering One's Talent: Learning from Academic Specialization Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 62, No. 2 (2011): 375-405
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15522

    Note: ED
    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Email:
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
    More information through EDIRC

    Related research

    Keywords:

    Find related papers by JEL classification:

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    References

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Brian P. McCall, 1988. "Occupational Matching: A Test of Sorts," Working Papers, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. 617, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    2. Altonji, Joseph G, 1993. "The Demand for and Return to Education When Education Outcomes Are Uncertain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 48-83, January.
    3. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2004. "Ability sorting and the returns to college major," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 343-375.
    4. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
    5. Miller, Robert A, 1984. "Job Matching and Occupational Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 1086-120, December.
    6. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Ethan G. Lewis, 2006. "Schooling and the Armed Forces Qualifying Test: Evidence from School-Entry Laws," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011. "Priceless: The Nonpecuniary Benefits of Schooling," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 159-84, Winter.
    2. Bender, Keith A. & Roche, Kristen, 2013. "Educational mismatch and self-employment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 85-95.

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15522. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.