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Human Capital Investments and Expectations about Career and Family

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  • Matthew Wiswall
  • Basit Zafar

Abstract

This paper studies how individuals "believe" human capital investments will affect their future career and family life. We conducted a survey of high-ability currently enrolled college students and elicited beliefs about how their choice of college major, and whether to complete their degree at all, would affect a wide array of future events, including future earnings, employment, marriage prospects, potential spousal characteristics, and fertility. We find that students perceive large "returns" to human capital not only in their own future earnings, but also in a number of other dimensions (such as future labor supply and potential spouse's earnings). In a recent follow-up survey conducted six years after the initial data collection, we find a close connection between the expectations and current realizations. Finally, we show that both the career and family expectations help explain human capital choices.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Wiswall & Basit Zafar, 2016. "Human Capital Investments and Expectations about Career and Family," NBER Working Papers 22543, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22543
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Katharine G. Abraham & Emel Filiz-Ozbay & Erkut Y. Ozbay & Lesley J. Turner, 2018. "Framing Effects, Earnings Expectations, and the Design of Student Loan Repayment Schemes," NBER Working Papers 24484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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