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Higher education expansion and post-college unemployment: Understanding the roles of fields of study in China

Lijun Yang

International Journal of Educational Development, 2018, vol. 62, issue C, 62-74

Abstract: Post-college unemployment has become a serious social problem in China. The current study draws data from two regional state universities—a comprehensive state university and a polytechnic state university—and examines the relationship between fields of study and labor market outcomes. Both universities have expanded their enrollment numbers, but the pathways to expansion and experienced structural changes vary greatly between the two. The study explores three specific questions: (1) Do university graduates majoring in humanities and social sciences (HSS) experience more difficulty obtaining a job than students majoring in economically-oriented field or technical field? (2) Is the employment gap greater in polytechnic state universities than in comprehensive state universities? And (3) are HSS students more likely to pursue graduate studies to avoid unemployment? A multinomial logistic regression analysis provides strong evidence that students majoring in HSS experience greater employment difficulties. Expansion in postgraduate studies has to some extent lessened this labor market disadvantage for students majoring in these two “soft-fields.” The relative labor market disadvantage of HSS students is greater in polytechnic state universities that have merged with a liberal arts college. The proposition that HSS students are more likely to pursue graduate studies in response to a high risk of unemployment was only confirmed for the comprehensive state university. This study extends related theories and contributes to the literature on comparative studies of higher educational expansion and employment.

Keywords: Higher education expansion; Fields of study; Post-college unemployment; Humanities and social sciences; China (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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