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What Will I Be When I Grow Up? An Analysis of Childhood Expectations and Career Outcomes

  • Sarah Brown


  • John Sessions
  • Karl Taylor


In this paper we utilise the British National Child Development Study to explore the determinants of children’s career expectations formed at the age of sixteen. We analyse how such career expectations impact upon human capital accumulation at the same age. We also analyse the extent of any divergence between childhood career expectations and the actual career outcomes experienced by the individuals at three distinct ages in adulthood (23, 33 and 42) as well as the impact of any such divergence on early- and mid- career wage growth. Our findings suggest that career expectations are an important determinant of human capital accumulation, which in turn is a key determinant of occupational status.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Leicester in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 05/2.

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Date of creation: Nov 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lec:leecon:05/2
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics University of Leicester, University Road. Leicester. LE1 7RH. UK
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  1. Neumark, David & Rothstein, Donna, 2006. "School-to-career programs and transitions to employment and higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 374-393, August.
  2. Robertson, Donald & Symons, James, 1990. "The Occupational Choice of British Children," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(402), pages 828-41, September.
  3. Sarah Brown & Gaia Garino & Karl Taylor, 2008. "Mortgages and Financial Expectations: A Household-Level Analysis," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 857-878, January.
  4. Dustmann, Christian & Rajah, Najma & van Soest, Arthur, 2002. "Class Size, Education and Wages," CEPR Discussion Papers 3397, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Das, J.W.M. & van Soest, A.H.O., 1996. "A Panel Data Model for Subjective Information on Household Income Growth," Discussion Paper 1996-75, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  6. Francesconi, Marco & Nicoletti, Cheti, 2004. "Intergenerational mobility and sample selection in short panels," ISER Working Paper Series 2004-17, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  7. Joy, Lois, 2006. "Occupational differences between recent male and female college graduates," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 221-231, April.
  8. Lorraine Dearden & Javier Ferri & Costas Meghir, 1998. "The effect of school quality on educational attainment and wages," IFS Working Papers W98/03, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  9. Boskin, Michael J, 1974. "A Conditional Logit Model of Occupational Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 389-98, Part I, M.
  10. Denise Hawkes & Ian Plewis, 2006. "Modelling non-response in the National Child Development Study," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(3), pages 479-491.
  11. Sarah Brown & Karl Taylor & Gaia Garino & Stephen Wheatley Price, 2003. "Debt and financial expectations: an individual and household level analysis," Discussion Papers in Economics 03/5, Department of Economics, University of Leicester, revised Feb 2004.
  12. Charles F. Manski, 2004. "Measuring Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1329-1376, 09.
  13. Arnaud Chevalier, 2007. "Education, Occupation and Career Expectations: Determinants of the Gender Pay Gap for UK Graduates," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 69(6), pages 819-842, December.
  14. Erikson, Robert & Goldthorpe, John H., 2009. "Social class, family background, and intergenerational mobility: A comment on Mcintosh and Munk," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 118-120, January.
  15. McIntosh, James & Munk, Martin D., 2009. "Social class, family background, and intergenerational mobility," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 107-117, January.
  16. Andrews, Martyn & Bradley, Steve, 1997. "Modelling the Transition from School and the Demand for Training in the United Kingdom," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 64(255), pages 387-413, August.
  17. Anabela Botelho & Lígia Costa Pinto, 2003. "Students' expectations of the economic returns to college education Results of a controlled experiment," NIMA Working Papers 27, Núcleo de Investigação em Microeconomia Aplicada (NIMA), Universidade do Minho.
  18. Schmidt, Peter & Strauss, Robert P, 1975. "The Prediction of Occupation Using Multiple Logit Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 16(2), pages 471-86, June.
  19. Nickell, Stephen, 1982. "The Determinants of Occupational Success in Britain," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 43-53, January.
  20. Mayhew, Ken & Rosewell, Bridget, 1981. "Occupational Mobility in Britain," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 43(3), pages 225-55, August.
  21. Greenhalgh, Christine A & Stewart, Mark B, 1985. "The Occupational Status and Mobility of British Men and Women," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(1), pages 40-71, March.
  22. Gupta, Nabanita Datta, 1993. "Probabilities of Job Choice and Employer Selection and Male-Female Occupational Differences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 57-61, May.
  23. Carvajal, Manuel J. & Bendana, David & Bozorgmanesh, Alireza & Castillo, Miguel A. & Pourmasiha, Katayoun & Rao, Priya & Torres, Juan A., 2000. "Inter-gender differentials between college students' earnings expectations and the experience of recent graduates," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 229-243, June.
  24. Ermisch, John & Francesconi, Marco, 2001. "Family Matters: Impacts of Family Background on Educational Attainments," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(270), pages 137-56, May.
  25. Jason Long & Joseph Ferrie, 2007. "The Path to Convergence: Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in Britain and the US in Three Eras," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(519), pages C61-C71, 03.
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