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College Majors and Skills: Evidence from the Universe of Online Job Ads

Author

Listed:
  • Hemelt, Steven W.

    (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

  • Hershbein, Brad J.

    (Upjohn Institute for Employment Research)

  • Martin, Shawn

    (University of Michigan)

  • Stange, Kevin

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

We document the skill content of college majors as perceived by employers and expressed in the near universe of U.S. online job ads. Social and organizational skills are general in that they are sought by employers of almost all college majors, whereas other skills are more specialized. In turn, general majors––Business and General Engineering––have skill profiles similar to all majors; Nursing and Education are specialized. These cross-major differences in skill profiles explain considerable wage variation, with little role for within-major differences in skills across areas. College majors can thus be reasonably conceptualized as portable bundles of skills.

Suggested Citation

  • Hemelt, Steven W. & Hershbein, Brad J. & Martin, Shawn & Stange, Kevin, 2021. "College Majors and Skills: Evidence from the Universe of Online Job Ads," IZA Discussion Papers 14964, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp14964
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Deborah M. Weiss & Matthew L. Spitzer & Colton Cronin & Neil Chin, 2024. "Why college majors and selectivity matter: Major groupings, occupation specificity, and job skills," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(2), pages 278-304, April.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    college major; skill demand;

    JEL classification:

    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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