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

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  • Joseph G. Altonji
  • Erica Blom
  • Costas Meghir

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 post-secondary 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 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 choice of curriculum and the effects of high school courses and college major on labor market outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17985.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17985

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Cited by:
  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.

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