Cashier or Consultant? Entry Labor Market Conditions, Field of Study, and Career Success

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 14.05.2013, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Joseph G. Altonji (Yale University)


We analyze early career outcomes of college graduates as a function of the economic conditions they graduated into and the skill requirements of their field of study. To this end, we combine multiple data sets with information on earnings and field of study for U.S. college graduates who completed their degrees between 1976 and 2011. This provides coverage of multiple business cycles and larger sample sizes than the typical cohort-based analyses in this literature. We categorize college major classifications by indicators of skill in the majors, predominantly the average SAT math score and the average earnings premium. We then measure earnings, wage, employment, occupation skill level and educational attainment effects by skill level of graduating in times of higher unemployment.

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