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International Trends in Economics Degrees During the 1990s

Listed author(s):
  • John J. Siegfried


    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

  • David K. Round

    (Department of Economics, University of Adelaide)

Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United States experienced a substantial decline in undergraduate degrees in economics from 1992 through 1996, followed immediately by a modest recovery. This cycle does not conform to overall degree trends, shifts in the gender composition of undergraduate populations, or changing interests of female students in any of the four countries. There is no evidence that changes in the "price" of a degree to students, tightened marking standards or degree requirements, or changes in pedagogical methods caused the cycle either. Jobs for economics graduates declined in the U.S. between 1988 and 1990, and thereafter recovered. With a two-year recognition lag, the pattern of employment prospects fits the U.S. slump in economics degrees perfectly. Unfortunately, employment patterns in the other three countries are inconsistent with the degree cycle. The explanation that fits the economic degree pattern best is interest in business education. Undergraduate economics degree counts for the U.S. updated through June 2000 are reported in the appendix.

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Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 0047.

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Date of creation: Nov 2000
Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0047
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References listed on IDEAS
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  1. William E. Becker & Michael Watts, 2001. "Teaching Methods in U.S. Undergraduate Economics Courses," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(3), pages 269-279, January.
  2. Robert A. Margo & John J. Siegfried, 1996. "Long-Run Trends in Economics Bachelor's Degrees," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(4), pages 326-336, October.
  3. Philip Lewis & Keith Norris, 1997. "Recent Changes In Economics Enrolments," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 16(1), pages 1-13, 03.
  4. Rachel A. Willis & Paul J. Pieper, 1996. "The Economics Major: A Cross-Sectional View," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(4), pages 337-349, October.
  5. Bartlett, Robin L, 1995. "Attracting "Otherwise Bright Students" to Economics 101," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 362-366, May.
  6. Siegfried, John J & Raymond, Jennie E, 1984. "A Profile of Senior Economics Majors in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 19-25, May.
  7. Brandice J. Canes & Harvey S. Rosen, 1995. "Following in Her Footsteps? Faculty Gender Composition and Women's Choices of College Majors," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(3), pages 486-504, April.
  8. David Brasfield & Dannie Harrison & James McCoy & Martin Milkman, 1996. "Why Have Some Schools Not Experienced a Decrease in the Percentage of Students Majoring in Economics?," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(4), pages 362-370, October.
  9. Michael K. Salemi & Carlie Eubanks, 1996. "Accounting for the Rise and Fall in the Number of Economics Majors with the Discouraged-Business-Major Hypothesis," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(4), pages 350-361, October.
  10. Cecilia A. Conrad, 1996. "Where Have All the Majors Gone? Comment," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(4), pages 376-378, October.
  11. Richard Sabot & John Wakeman-Linn, 1991. "Grade Inflation and Course Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 159-170, Winter.
  12. John J. Siegfried, 1997. "Trends in Undergraduate Economics Degrees: An Update," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(3), pages 279-282, September.
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