Choosing the field of study in postsecondary education: Do expected earnings matter?

Journal Article

This paper examines the determinants of the choice of the college major when the length of studies and future earnings are uncertain. We estimate a three-stage schooling decision model, focusing on the effect of expected earnings on major choice. We control for dynamic selection through the use of mixture distributions. Exploiting variations across the French business cycle in the relative returns to the majors, our results yield a very low, though significant, elasticity of major choice to expected earnings. This suggests that at least for the French university context, nonpecuniary factors are a key determinant of schooling choices. © 2011 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Beffy, M; Fougère, D; Maurel, A

Published Date

  • 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 94 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 334 - 347

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0034-6535

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1162/REST_a_00212