Department of Economics
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706
Institutional Affiliation: University of Wisconsin-Madison
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|August 2020||College Majors|
with , : w27645
This article reviews the recent literature on the determinants of college major choices. We first highlight long-term trends and persistent differences in college major choices by gender, race, and family background. We then review the existing research in six key areas: expected earnings and ability sorting, learning, subjective expectations, non-pecuniary considerations, peer and family effects, and supply side factors. We examine and compare the various approaches employed by previous research and highlight key areas for future research.
|February 2020||The Role of Heterogeneous Risk Preferences, Discount Rates, and Earnings Expectations in College Major Choice|
with , , : w26785
In this paper, we estimate a rich model of college major choice using a panel of experimentally-derived data. Our estimation strategy combines two types of data: data on self-reported beliefs about future earnings from potential human capital decisions and survey-based measures of risk and time preferences. We show how to use these data to identify a general life-cycle model, allowing for rich patterns of heterogeneous beliefs and preferences. Our data allow us to separate perceptions about the degree of risk or perceptions about the current versus future payoffs for a choice from the individual's preference for risk and patience. Comparing our estimates of the general model to estimates of models which ignore heterogeneity in risk and time preferences, we find that these restricted models...