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Heterogeneity in Human Capital Investments: High School Curriculum, College Major, and Careers

Joseph Altonji, Erica Blom and Costas Meghir ()
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Erica Blom: Department of Economics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520

Annual Review of Economics, 2012, vol. 4, issue 1, 185-223

Abstract: Motivated by the large differences in labor market outcomes across college majors, we survey the literature on the demand for and return to high school and postsecondary education by field of study. We combine elements from several papers to provide a dynamic model of education and occupation choice that stresses the roles of the specificity of human capital and uncertainty about preferences, ability, education outcomes, and labor market returns. The model implies an important distinction between the ex ante and ex post returns to education decisions. We also discuss some of the econometric difficulties in estimating the causal effects of field of study on wages in the context of a sequential choice model with learning. Finally, we review the empirical literature on the choice of curriculum and the effects of high school courses and college major on labor market outcomes.

Keywords: dynamic discrete choice; returns to education; occupational choice (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D83 I21 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012
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