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Industry Fluctuations and College Major Choices: Evidence from an Energy Boom and Bust

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  • Han, Luyi
  • Winters, John V.

Abstract

This paper examines how college students in the United States altered their college majors during the energy boom and bust of the 1970s and 1980s. We focus on petroleum engineering and geology, two majors closely related to the energy industry. We find strong evidence that the energy boom increased the prevalence of these two energy-related majors and the energy bust lowered the prevalence of these majors. Effects are particularly strong for young people born in energy intensive states. Thus, college major decisions responded to industry fluctuations with important location-specific effects consistent with frictions to migration and information flows.

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  • Han, Luyi & Winters, John V., 2020. "Industry Fluctuations and College Major Choices: Evidence from an Energy Boom and Bust," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:77:y:2020:i:c:s0272775719305801
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2020.101996
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    3. Winters, John V., 2022. "No Place like Home: Place-Based Attachments and Regional Science," IZA Discussion Papers 15451, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Aalto, Aino-Maija & Müller, Dagmar & Tilley, J. Lucas, 2021. "From Epidemic to Pandemic: Did the COVID-19 Outbreak Affect High School Program Choices in Sweden?," Working Paper Series 1420, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
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    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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    College major; Human capital; Higher education; Energy boom; Energy bust;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General

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