Do Students’ College Major Choice Respond to Changes in Wages?
We evaluate whether there is a causal connection between changes in wages by occupation and subsequent changes in the number of college majors completed in associated fields. Using aggregate national data and individual-level data from Washington State, we find statistically significant, although modest, relationships between wages and majors. College majors are most strongly related to wages observed three years earlier, when students were college freshmen. Majors with a tight connection to particular occupations show a stronger response to wages. The overall modest relationship suggests that policies which inform students about labor market outcomes are unlikely to greatly change student behavior.
Keywords: College Major, Wages, Labor Market
Citation: Mark C. Long, Dan Goldhaber, Nick Huntington-Klein (2014). Do Students’ College Major Choice Respond to Changes in Wages?. CALDER Working Paper No. 107
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