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The Changing Occupational Distribution by College Major

Michael Ransom () and Aaron Phipps

A chapter in Skill Mismatch in Labor Markets, 2017, vol. 45, pp 129-171 from Emerald Publishing Ltd

Abstract: Abstract In this paper, we examine the occupational distribution of individuals who hold bachelor degrees in particular fields in the United States using data from the various waves of the National Survey of College Graduates. We propose and calculate indices that describe two related aspects of the occupational distribution by major field of study: distinctiveness (how dissimilar are the occupations of a particular major when compared with all other majors) and variety (how varied are the occupations among those who hold that particular major). We discuss theoretical properties of these indices and statistical properties of their estimates. We show that the occupational variety has increased since 1993 for most major fields of study, particularly between the 1993 and 2003 waves of the survey. We explore reasons for this broadening of the occupation distribution. We find that this has not led to an increase in reported mismatch between degree and occupation.

Keywords: Occupations; college major; J24; J21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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