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College Major Choice and Ability: Why is General Ability not Enough?

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  • Tjasa Loga
  • Saso Polanec

Abstract

The choice of college major is one of the most important decisions students make. In this paper we study the impact of ability on college major choice,using a data set for full-time students enrolled in four-year business and economics programs offered by the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana. We distinguish between general and major-specific ability, which measure different dimensions of cognitive ability. We show that both measures are important in explaining individual decisions and that misleading results can follow from observing only commonly employed general ability. We also find important gender differences as males are more likely to base their major choice on the ability to complete coursework, while females are more likely to decide according to unobserved preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Tjasa Loga & Saso Polanec, 2011. "College Major Choice and Ability: Why is General Ability not Enough?," LICOS Discussion Papers 27411, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  • Handle: RePEc:lic:licosd:27411
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    File URL: http://www.econ.kuleuven.be/licos/publications/dp/dp274.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bottia, Martha Cecilia & Stearns, Elizabeth & Mickelson, Roslyn Arlin & Moller, Stephanie & Valentino, Lauren, 2015. "Growing the roots of STEM majors: Female math and science high school faculty and the participation of students in STEM," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 14-27.
    2. repec:spr:empeco:v:52:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00181-016-1121-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Benoît Rapoport & Claire Thibout, 2016. "Why Do Boys and Girls Make Different Educational Choices? The Influence of Expected Earnings and Test Scores," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n01, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    College Majors; Ability; Gender Differences;

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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