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Major Choices : Undergraduate Concentrations and the Probability of Graduation

  • Kathy Cannings
  • Sophie Mahseredjian
  • Claude Montmarquette

We develop a model of the decision-making process in which the perceived probability of success in a major is the central determinant of the choice of a major. Using 1979-1987 data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we employ a two-step procedure that first evaluates, for all the individuals in the sample, the chances of success in all majors. Second, with a multinominal logit model of discrete choice, we explain the individuals choice of a major with his or her estimated probability of success and characteristics. This paper shows that the choice of college concentration depends on the perceived probability of success in a particular concentration. There are, however significant differences across groups and for students who have a high probability of success in all majors. Nous développons un modèle de décision où la probabilité attendue du succès dans un champ d'éducation devient l'élément central du choix de cette filière. Utilisant des données longitudinales américaines de 1979 à 1987, nous employons une procédure à deux étapes pour évaluer dans un premier temps, pour chacun des individus, leurs chances de réussite dans chacune des filières d'éducation considérées. Par la suite, à l'aide d'un modèle logit multinominal de choix discrets, nous expliquons les choix individuels relativement à ces probabilités anticipées de succès, de même que diverses caractéristiques individuelles et socio-économiques des étudiants. L'étude montre que le choix d'une filière d'éducation dépend de la probabilité perçue du succès dans cette filière particulière. Il y a, par ailleurs, des différences significatives selon les groupes sociaux et selon le talent des étudiants.

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File URL: http://www.cirano.qc.ca/files/publications/94s-09.pdf
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Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 94s-09.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 01 Oct 1994
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:94s-09
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