Choosing a College Major
By Arnold Kling
using a yearly survey of freshmen, that college students are becoming more interested in making money. In 1971, about 50% went to college to make money. In the 1990s, it’s about 70%. Similarly, modern college students are more interested in financial stability, not philosophical issues.
I am not sure that is inconsistent with students wanting to shun business. My reading of contemporary college students is that they want to work for non-profits and be reasonably well off.
Anyway, the WSJ blog has a table of earnings by different college majors. I tried to find out more by looking at the source, but this did not address my questions. For example, vintage matters. The median earnings for some newer majors may be low due to the fact that they don’t contain workers who have had time to climb the earnings ladder.
Also, ability matters. An undergraduate business major may be the degree of choice for someone of relatively low ability, which it would give it a somewhat low earnings profile even though it might be adding a lot of value to the students who obtain it. Conversely, a philosophy major may indicate someone of high ability, but it may add little (market) value to the recipient.
The data are tantalizing, and I look forward to seeing how people slice and dice them to produce interesting insights.