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Student Uncertainty and Major Choice

  • Joshua Congdon-Hohman

    ()

    (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)

  • Anil Nathan

    ()

    (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)

  • Justin Svec

    ()

    (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)

This paper examines how model uncertainty affects students' choice of major. To account for this uncertainty, the students apply a max-min operator to their optimization problem. We show analytically that greater uncertainty in a particular major causes the student to be less likely to choose that major and that greater uncertainty across all majors causes fewer students to major in science, technology, engineering, and math. To test the model's assumptions and predictions, we have conducted a novel survey of college freshmen. The results from this survey are consistent with assumptions and implications of the theoretical model.

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File URL: http://college.holycross.edu/RePEc/hcx/Congdon-Nathan-Svec_MajorChoice.pdf
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Paper provided by College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1301.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hcx:wpaper:1301
Contact details of provider: Phone: (508)793-3362
Fax: (508) 793-3708
Web page: http://www.holycross.edu/departments/economics/website/

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  1. Arcidiacono, Peter & Hotz, V. Joseph & Kang, Songman, 2012. "Modeling college major choices using elicited measures of expectations and counterfactuals," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 166(1), pages 3-16.
  2. Richard Dennis, 2007. "Model uncertainty and monetary policy," Working Paper Series 2007-09, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  3. Narayana Kocherlakota & Christopher Phelan, 2007. "On the Robustness of Laissez-Faire," Levine's Bibliography 843644000000000165, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 2007. "Recursive robust estimation and control without commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 1-27, September.
  5. Price, Joshua, 2010. "The effect of instructor race and gender on student persistence in STEM fields," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 901-910, December.
  6. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2004. "Ability sorting and the returns to college major," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 343-375.
  7. Tomasz Strzalecki, 2011. "Axiomatic Foundations of Multiplier Preferences," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000126, David K. Levine.
  8. Robert Shimer, 2001. "The Assignment of Workers to Jobs In an Economy with Coordination Frictions," NBER Working Papers 8501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, October.
  11. Svec, Justin, 2012. "Optimal fiscal policy with robust control," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 349-368.
  12. Basit Zafar, 2011. "How Do College Students Form Expectations?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 301 - 348.
  13. Anastasios G. Karantounias with Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 2009. "Managing expectations and fiscal policy," FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. 2009-29, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
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