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An Economic Analysis of Identity and Career Choice

  • Humlum, Maria Knoth

    ()

    (Aarhus University)

  • Kleinjans, Kristin J.

    ()

    (California State University, Fullerton)

  • Nielsen, Helena Skyt

    ()

    (Aarhus University)

Standard economic models which focus on pecuniary payoffs cannot explain why there are highly able individuals who choose careers with low pecuniary returns. Therefore, financial incentives are unlikely to be effective in influencing career choices of these individuals. Based on Akerlof and Kranton (2000), we consider a model of career choice and identity where individuals derive non-pecuniary identity payoffs. Using factor analysis on a range of attitude questions, we find two factors related to identity (career orientation and social orientation), which are important for educational choices. The implication is that policymakers and institutions of higher education need to focus on identity related issues rather than just improved financial incentives if they aim at attracting the high ability youth to occupations with excess demand for labor.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp3120.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3120.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Inquiry, 2012, 50 (1), 39-61
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3120
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  1. Quinn, Robert & Price, Jamie, 1998. "The demand for medical education: an augmented human capital approach," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 337-347, June.
  2. Dolton, P J & Makepeace, G H & Van Der Klaauw, W, 1989. "Occupational Choice and Earnings Determination: The Role of Sample Selection and Non-pecuniary Factors," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(3), pages 573-94, July.
  3. Edward P. Lazear, 1975. "Education: Consumption or Production," NBER Working Papers 0104, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2002. "Identity and Schooling: Some Lessons for the Economics of Education," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1167-1201, December.
  5. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2004. "Ability sorting and the returns to college major," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 343-375.
  6. Daniel J. Benjamin & James J. Choi & A. Joshua Strickland, 2010. "Social Identity and Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1913-28, September.
  7. Edward T. Gullason, 1989. "The Consumption Value of Schooling: An Empirical Estimate of One Aspect," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(2), pages 287-298.
  8. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J., 2007. "Identifying and Estimating the Distributions of Ex Post and Ex Ante Returns to Schooling," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 870-893, December.
  9. Barbara L. Wolfe & Robert H. Haveman, 2002. "Social and nonmarket benefits from education in an advanced economy," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 47(Jun), pages 97-142.
  10. Spetz, Joanne, 2002. "The value of education in a licensed profession: the choice of associate or baccalaureate degrees in nursing," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 73-85, February.
  11. Ward, Melanie E & Sloane, Peter J, 2000. "Non-pecuniary Advantages versus Pecuniary Disadvantages; Job Satisfaction among Male and Female Academics in Scottish Universities," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 47(3), pages 273-303, August.
  12. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2005. "Identity and the Economics of Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 9-32, Winter.
  13. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  14. Scott, Anthony, 2001. "Eliciting GPs' preferences for pecuniary and non-pecuniary job characteristics," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 329-347, May.
  15. Karla Hoff & Priyanka Pandey, 2006. "Discrimination, Social Identity, and Durable Inequalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 206-211, May.
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