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College Major Choice and the Gender Gap

Listed author(s):
  • Basit Zafar

This paper studies how college majors are chosen, focusing on the underlying gender gap. I collect a data set of Northwestern University sophomores that contains their subjective expectations about choice-specific c outcomes, and estimate a model where majors are chosen under uncertainty. Enjoying coursework and gaining parents’ approval are the most important determinants in the choice for both genders. However, males and females differ in their preferences in the workplace, with males caring about the pecuniary outcomes in the workplace much more than females. The gender gap is mainly due to gender differences in preferences and tastes, and not because females are underconfident about their academic ability or fear monetary discrimination. The findings in this paper make a case for policies that change attitudes toward gender roles.

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File URL: http://jhr.uwpress.org/cgi/reprint/48/3/545
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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 48 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 545-595

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:48:y:2013:iii:1:p:545-595
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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  2. V. Joseph Hotz & Peter Arcidiacono & Songman Kang, 2010. "Modeling College Major Choices Using Elicited Measures of Expectations and Counterfactuals," Working Papers 10-30, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  3. Euwals, R.W. & Melenberg, B. & van Soest, A.H.O., 1997. "Testing the Predicitive Value of Subjective Labour Supply Data," Discussion Paper 1997-25, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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  5. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete too Much?," Discussion Papers 04-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  6. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2002. "Ability Sorting and the Returns to College Major," Working Papers 02-26, Duke University, Department of Economics.
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  8. Marianne Bertrand & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2010. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 228-255, July.
  9. David Revelt & Kenneth Train, 1998. "Mixed Logit With Repeated Choices: Households' Choices Of Appliance Efficiency Level," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(4), pages 647-657, November.
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  15. Bagwell, Laurie Simon & Bernheim, B Douglas, 1996. "Veblen Effects in a Theory of Conspicuous Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 349-373, June.
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  17. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2012. "On the Use of Expectations Data in Estimating Structural Dynamic Choice Models," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(3), pages 521-554.
  18. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Preferences and prices in choice of career: The switch to business, 1972-1987," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 1-34, June.
  19. Delavande, Adeline, 2005. "Pill, Patch or Shot? Subjective Expectations and Birth Control Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 4856, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Magali Beffy & Denis Fougère & Arnaud Maurel, 2012. "Choosing the Field of Study in Postsecondary Education: Do Expected Earnings Matter?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 334-347, February.
  21. Altonji, Joseph G, 1993. "The Demand for and Return to Education When Education Outcomes Are Uncertain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 48-83, January.
  22. Florian Hoffmann & Philip Oreopoulos, 2009. "A Professor Like Me: The Influence of Instructor Gender on College Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(2).
  23. F. Thomas Juster, 1964. "Anticipations and Purchases: An Analysis of Consumer Behavior," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number just64-1.
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