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Exposure to academic fields and college major choice

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  • Fricke, Hans
  • Grogger, Jeffrey
  • Steinmayr, Andreas

Abstract

This study investigates how exposure to a field of study influences students’ major choices. If students have incomplete information, exposure potentially helps them to learn about the scope of a field as well as how well the field matches their interest and abilities. We exploit a natural experiment where university students have to write a research paper in business, economics, or law during their first year before they choose a major. Due to oversubscription of business papers, the field of the paper is assigned quasi-randomly. We find that writing in economics raises the probability of majoring in economics by 2.7 percentage points. We show further that this effect varies across subfields: the effect is driven by assignment to topics less typical of the public's perception of the field of economics, suggesting students learn through exposure that the field is broader than they thought.

Suggested Citation

  • Fricke, Hans & Grogger, Jeffrey & Steinmayr, Andreas, 2018. "Exposure to academic fields and college major choice," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 199-213.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:64:y:2018:i:c:p:199-213
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2018.04.007
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    Cited by:

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    3. Seah, Kelvin K.C. & Pan, Jessica & Tan, Poh Lin, 2020. "Breadth of university curriculum and labor market outcomes," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    4. Arpita Patnaik & Matthew J. Wiswall & Basit Zafar, 2020. "College Majors," NBER Working Papers 27645, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Ryan, James C. & A Tipu, Syed A., 2022. "Business and management research: Low instances of replication studies and a lack of author independence in replications," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(1).
    6. Yanqing Ding & Wei Li & Xin Li & Yinduo Wu & Jin Yang & Xiaoyang Ye, 2021. "Heterogeneous Major Preferences for Extrinsic Incentives: The Effects of Wage Information on the Gender Gap in STEM Major Choice," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 62(8), pages 1113-1145, December.
    7. Kalena E. Cortes & Hans Fricke & Susanna Loeb & David S. Song, 2018. "Too little or too much? Actionable Advice in an Early-Childhood Text Messaging Experiment," NBER Working Papers 24827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Ahi, Alan A. & Sinkovics, Noemi & Shildibekov, Yelnur & Sinkovics, Rudolf R. & Mehandjiev, Nikolay, 2022. "Advanced technologies and international business: A multidisciplinary analysis of the literature," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(4).
    9. Kalena E. Cortes & Hans D.U. Fricke & Susanna Loeb & David S. Song & Benjamin N. York, 2019. "When Behavioral Barriers are Too High or Low – How Timing Matters for Parenting Interventions," NBER Working Papers 25964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Bo, Shiyu & Chen, Joy & Song, Yan & Zhou, Sen, 2020. "Media attention and choice of major: Evidence from anti-doctor violence in China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 1-19.
    11. Fricke, Hans & Lechner, Michael & Steinmayr, Andreas, 2018. "The effects of incentives to exercise on student performance in college," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 14-39.
    12. Yang, Guanyi & Casner, Ben, 2021. "How much does schooling disutility matter?," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 87-95.
    13. Bo, Shiyu & Chen, Y. Joy & Song, Yan & Zhou, Sen, 2018. "Media Attention and Choice of Major: Evidence from Anti-Doctor Violence in China," GLO Discussion Paper Series 284, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    14. Doss, Christopher & Fricke, Hans & Loeb, Susanna & Doromal, Justin B., 2022. "Engaging girls in math: The unequal effects of text messaging to help parents support early math development," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 88(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Major choice; Business; Economics; Law; Higher education;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A20 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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