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Author:Wiswall, Matthew 

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Preferences and biases in educational choices and labor market expectations: shrinking the black box of gender

Standard observed characteristics explain only part of the differences between men and women in education choices and labor market trajectories. Using an experiment to derive students' levels of overconfidence, and preferences for competitiveness and risk, this paper investigates whether these behavioral biases and preferences explain gender differences in college major choices and expected future earnings. In a sample of high-ability undergraduates, we find that competitiveness and overconfidence, but not risk aversion, are systematically related with expectations about future earnings: ...
Staff Reports , Paper 627

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Human capital investments and expectations about career and family

This paper studies how individuals believe human capital investments will affect their future career and family life. We conducted a survey of high-ability currently enrolled college students and elicited beliefs about how their choice of college major, and whether to complete their degree at all, would affect a wide array of future events, including future earnings, employment, marriage prospects, potential spousal characteristics, and fertility. We find that students perceive large ?returns" to human capital not only in their own future earnings, but also in a number of other dimensions ...
Staff Reports , Paper 792

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Determinants of college major choice: identification using an information experiment

This paper studies the determinants of college major choice using an experimentally generated panel of beliefs, obtained by providing students with information on the true population distribution of various major-specific characteristics. Students logically revise their beliefs in response to the information, and their subjective beliefs about future major choice are associated with beliefs about their own earnings and ability. We estimate a rich model of college major choice using the panel of beliefs data. While expected earnings and perceived ability are a significant determinant of major ...
Staff Reports , Paper 500

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Belief updating among college students: evidence from experimental variation in information

We investigate how college students form and update their beliefs about future earnings using a unique ?information? experiment. We provide college students true information about the population distribution of earnings and observe how this information causes respondents to update their beliefs about their own future earnings. We show that college students are substantially misinformed about population earnings and logically revise their self-beliefs in response to the information we provide, with larger revisions when the information is more specific and is good news. We classify the ...
Staff Reports , Paper 516

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Preference for the workplace, investment in human capital, and gender

We use a hypothetical choice methodology to estimate preferences for workplace attributes and quantify how much these preferences influence pre-labor-market human capital investments. This method robustly identifies preferences for various job attributes, free from omitted variable bias and free from considering the equilibrium job match. Women on average have a higher willingness to pay (WTP) for jobs with greater work flexibility and job stability, and men have a higher WTP for jobs with higher earnings growth. These job preferences relate to college major choices and actual job choices, ...
Staff Reports , Paper 767

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