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Preferences for lifetime earnings, earnings risk and nonpecuniary attributes in choice of higher education




Expected earnings are considered to influence individuals' choice of education. However, the presence of nonpecuniary attributes and the different choice set available to prospective students make identification of this relationship difficult. This paper employs a conditional logit model on exceptionally rich application data, which are likely to reflect the actual preferences of the applicants, given their individual choice sets. Controlling for several nonpecuniary attributes, average lifetime earnings is shown to strongly influence educational choice. A one-percent earnings increase for a given education increases the number of male applicants by about 5 percent and female applicants by about 2 percent. However, other attributes also matter, in particular earnings risk. Increasing both earnings and risk as they correlate in the cross section has essentially no effect on the number of female applicants. Difference in earnings and risk preferences both contribute to a gender earnings differential. Finally, there is some preference heterogeneity by education chosen.

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  • Lars Johannessen Kirkebøen, 2012. "Preferences for lifetime earnings, earnings risk and nonpecuniary attributes in choice of higher education," Discussion Papers 725, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:725

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Luc Bridet & Margaret Leighton, 2015. "The Major Decision: Labor Market Implications of the Timing of Specialization in College," Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics 201510, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews.

    More about this item


    Rank-ordered logit; nested logit; field of study;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities

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