The Analysis of Field Choice in College and Graduate School: Determinants and Wage Effects

Joseph G. Altonji, Peter Arcidiacono, Arnaud Maurel

NBER Working Paper No. 21655
Issued in October 2015
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education, Labor Studies, Public Economics

As the workforce has become more educated, educational decisions are no longer just about whether to acquire more, but rather what type of education to pursue. In college, individuals somewhat specialize through their choice of college major. Further specialization occurs in graduate school. This chapter investigates how majors and graduate school affect labor market outcomes as well as how the individuals make these potentially important decisions. To do so, we develop a dynamic model of educational decision-making. In light of the model, we examine the estimation issues associated with obtaining causal effects of educational choices on earnings. We then examine ways that authors have overcome the selection problem as well as the approaches authors have taken to estimate the process by which these educational decisions are made.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21655

Published: J.G. Altonji, P. Arcidiacono, A. Maurel, Chapter 7 - The Analysis of Field Choice in College and Graduate School: Determinants and Wage Effects, Editor(s): Eric A. Hanushek, Stephen Machin, Ludger Woessmann, Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier, Volume 5, 2016, Pages 305-396, ISSN 1574-0692, ISBN 9780444634597,

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