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Gender Differences in Major Choice and College Entrance Probabilities in Brazil

  • Alejandra Traferri
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    I study gender differences in major choice and college entrance probabilities in University of Campinas, a Brazilian public university dependent on the State of Sao Paulo. As with most Brazilian public universities, students select a major, and then compete for a place in that major by taking a major-specific entrance exam. This singular characteristic of the Brazilian case allows me to differentiate the effect of gender on major-specific entrance probabilities and preferences. I propose a model and econometric strategy which can account for two important issues, selectivity bias and the fact that expected utility depends on the probability of entering the different majors. I find evidence of gender differences in preferences and entrance probabilities. For most majors, gender differences in major choice are mostly explained by differences in preferences. However, for the most demanding majors (those that require higher grades from students), differences in major choice are explained in a large proportion by differences in entrance probabilities. Finally, I find that gender has important interactions with other variables. In particular, gender effects depend on education, socioeconomic characteristics and family background.

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    Paper provided by Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. in its series Documentos de Trabajo with number 403.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:ioe:doctra:403
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    1. Basit Zafar, 2013. "College Major Choice and the Gender Gap," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(3), pages 545-595.
    2. Montmarquette, Claude & Cannings, Kathy & Mahseredjian, Sophie, 2002. "How do young people choose college majors?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 543-556, December.
    3. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2002. "Ability Sorting and the Returns to College Major," Working Papers 02-26, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    4. Sarah E. Turner & William G. Bowen, 1999. "Choice of major: The changing (unchanging) gender gap," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(2), pages 289-313, January.
    5. Juliana Guimarães & Breno Sampaio, 2007. "The Influence Of Family Background And Individual Characteristics On Entrance Tests Scores Of Brazilian University Students," Anais do XXXV Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 35th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 092, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
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