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Forming wage expectations through learning: Evidence from college major choices

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  • Xia, Xiaoyu

Abstract

How do college students choose their majors, and what role does the family play in their choices? I use data from two major longitudinal surveys to develop and estimate a model in which students learn about earning opportunities associated with different majors through the wages of older siblings and parents. The probability of a student choosing a major that corresponds to the occupation of a family member is strongly correlated with the family member's wage at the time the major choice is made. This correlation remains strong after controlling for family-correlated abilities or preferences, and additional empirical evidence suggests that the observed correlation arises through a family-based wage information channel.

Suggested Citation

  • Xia, Xiaoyu, 2016. "Forming wage expectations through learning: Evidence from college major choices," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PA), pages 176-196.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:132:y:2016:i:pa:p:176-196
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2016.10.013
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Wage expectation; Major choice; Intergenerational transmission;

    JEL classification:

    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • 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
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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