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Are sociocultural factors important for studying a science university major?

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  • Grossmann, Volker
  • Osikominu, Aderonke
  • Osterfeld, Marius

Abstract

This paper examines the role of the sociocultural background of students for choosing STEM fields in university. We combine rich survey data on university graduates in Switzerland with municipality level information from the census as well as nationwide elections and referenda to characterize a students home environment with respect to religious and political attitudes towards gender equality and science-related issues. Our empirical estimates are based on a structural Roy model which accounts for differences in costs (relative distance to the next technical university) and earnings across majors as well as for selection bias. Our findings suggest that male students from conservative municipalities are more likely to study a STEM field, whereas the sociocultural background plays little role for the major choice of females.

Suggested Citation

  • Grossmann, Volker & Osikominu, Aderonke & Osterfeld, Marius, 2015. "Are sociocultural factors important for studying a science university major?," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 12-2015, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:hohdps:122015
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    Keywords

    Choice of field of study; Gender differences; Selection bias; Sociocultural environment; STEM fields;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access

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