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The Changing Occupational Distribution by College Major

Author

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  • Ransom, Michael R.

    () (Brigham Young University)

  • Phipps, Aaron

    () (University of Virginia)

Abstract

In this paper we examine the occupational distribution of individuals who hold bachelor degrees in particular fields in the United States using data from the various waves of the National Survey of College Graduates. We propose and calculate indexes that describe two related aspects of the occupational distribution by major field of study: distinctiveness (how dissimilar are the occupations of a particular major when compared with all other majors) and variety (how varied are the occupations among those who hold that particular major). We discuss theoretical properties of these indices and statistical properties of their estimates. We show that the occupational variety has increased since 1993 for most major fields of study, particularly between the 1993 and 2003 waves of the survey. We explore reasons for this broadening of the occupation distribution. We find that this has not led to an increase in reported mismatch between degree and occupation.

Suggested Citation

  • Ransom, Michael R. & Phipps, Aaron, 2016. "The Changing Occupational Distribution by College Major," IZA Discussion Papers 10193, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10193
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paul Beaudry & David A. Green & Benjamin M. Sand, 2016. "The Great Reversal in the Demand for Skill and Cognitive Tasks," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S1), pages 199-247.
    2. Yamaguchi, Shintaro, 2010. "The effect of match quality and specific experience on career decisions and wage growth," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 407-423, April.
    3. Jaison R. Abel & Richard Deitz, 2017. "Underemployment in the Early Careers of College Graduates following the Great Recession," NBER Chapters,in: Education, Skills, and Technical Change: Implications for Future U.S. GDP Growth, pages 149-181 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Joseph G. Altonji & Erica Blom & Costas Meghir, 2012. "Heterogeneity in Human Capital Investments: High School Curriculum, College Major, and Careers," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 185-223, July.
    5. 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.
    6. Michael R. Ransom, 2000. "Sampling Distributions of Segregation Indexes," Sociological Methods & Research, , vol. 28(4), pages 454-475, May.
    7. Long, Mark C. & Goldhaber, Dan & Huntington-Klein, Nick, 2015. "Do completed college majors respond to changes in wages?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 1-14.
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    9. Robst, John, 2007. "Education and job match: The relatedness of college major and work," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 397-407, August.
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    11. Blom, Erica & Cadena, Brian C. & Keys, Benjamin J., 2015. "Investment over the Business Cycle: Insights from College Major Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 9167, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Randy P. Albelda, 1986. "Occupational Segregation by Race and Gender, 1958–1981," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 39(3), pages 404-411, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Liu, Shimeng & Sun, Weizeng & Winters, John V., 2017. "Up in STEM, Down in Business: Changing College Major Decisions with the Great Recession," IZA Discussion Papers 10996, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    college major; occupation;

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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