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College Majors

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  • Arpita Patnaik
  • Matthew J. Wiswall
  • Basit Zafar

Abstract

This article reviews the recent literature on the determinants of college major choices. We first highlight long-term trends and persistent differences in college major choices by gender, race, and family background. We then review the existing research in six key areas: expected earnings and ability sorting, learning, subjective expectations, non-pecuniary considerations, peer and family effects, and supply side factors. We examine and compare the various approaches employed by previous research and highlight key areas for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Arpita Patnaik & Matthew J. Wiswall & Basit Zafar, 2020. "College Majors," NBER Working Papers 27645, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27645
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    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

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