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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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  17. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2002. "Ability Sorting and the Returns to College Major," Working Papers 02-26, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  18. Wilbert van der Klaauw & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2005. "Social Security and the Retirement and Savings Behavior of Low Income Households," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-020, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
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  20. Matthew Wiswall & Basit Zafar, 2015. "Determinants of College Major Choice: Identification using an Information Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 791-824.
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