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Personality and field of study choice

  • Humburg M.


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: 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:unm:umaror:2014001
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