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Personality and field of study choice

  • Humburg, M.

    (Research Centre for Educ and Labour Mark)

Field of study choice has far-reaching implications for individuals enrolling in university. Field of study choice is strongly linked to the subject matter graduates will specialize in, the kind of work environment they will be working in, and the returns to their skills they can expect once they enter the workforce. This paper uses unique Dutch data which demonstrates that personality measured at age 14 can be linked to field of study choice at around age 19. It can be shown that the Big Five personality traits affect field of study choice. Moreover, while personality matters less than cognitive skills, such as math ability and verbal ability, for educational attainment, the influence of personality on field of study choice is comparable to that of cognitive skills. Sorting across fields of study on the basis of personality traits is in some respects similar for women and men, although substantial differences exist.

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Paper provided by Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) in its series ROA Research Memorandum with number 001.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2014
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Handle: RePEc:unm:umaror:2014001
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  1. Mark C. Berger, 1988. "Predicted Future Earnings and Choice of College Major," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 41(3), pages 418-429, April.
  2. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman & Susanne Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the technology of cognitive and noncognitive skill formation," CeMMAP working papers CWP09/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. Alan B. Krueger & David A. Schkade, 2007. "Sorting in the Labor Market: Do Gregarious Workers Flock to Interactive Jobs?," Working Papers 63, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
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  6. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 12840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Borghans Lex & Lee Duckworth Angela & Heckman James J. & Weel Bas ter, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," ROA Research Memorandum 001, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  8. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2004. "Ability sorting and the returns to college major," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 343-375.
  9. Borghans Lex & Weel Bas ter & Weinberg Bruce A., 2007. "Interpersonal Styles and Labor Market Outcomes," ROA Research Memorandum 001, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  10. V. Joseph Hotz & Peter Arcidiacono & Songman Kang, 2010. "Modeling College Major Choices Using Elicited Measures of Expectations and Counterfactuals," Working Papers 10-30, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  11. Basit Zafar, 2013. "College Major Choice and the Gender Gap," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(3), pages 545-595.
  12. Heineck, Guido & Anger, Silke, 2010. "The returns to cognitive abilities and personality traits in Germany," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 535-546, June.
  13. Randall K. Filer, 1986. "The Role of Personality and Tastes in Determining Occupational Structure," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 39(3), pages 412-424, April.
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  15. Antecol, Heather & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A., 2013. "Do psychosocial traits help explain gender segregation in young people's occupations?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 59-73.
  16. Sherwin Rosen, 2002. "Markets and Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 1-15, March.
  17. Flyer, Fredrick A, 1997. "The Influence of Higher Moments of Earnings Distributions on Career Decisions," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(4), pages 689-713, October.
  18. Gerrit Mueller & Erik Plug, 2006. "Estimating the Effect of Personality on Male and Female Earnings," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 3-22, October.
  19. Nyhus, Ellen K. & Pons, Empar, 2005. "The effects of personality on earnings," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 363-384, June.
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