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

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph G. Altonji & Erica Blom & Costas Meghir, 2012. "Heterogeneity in Human Capital Investments: High School Curriculum, College Major, and Careers," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 185-223, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:4:y:2012:p:185-223
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    File URL: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-economics-080511-110908
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    dynamic discrete choice; returns to education; occupational choice;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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