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ERIC Number: ED556799
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jul
Pages: 69
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 51
Evolution of Gender Differences in Post-Secondary Human Capital Investments: College Majors. Working Paper #03-11
Gemici, Ahu; Wiswall, Matthew
Institute for Education and Social Policy
Over the past 40 years, the level of human capital investments has changed substantially for men and women. Changes in the intensive margin of college major selection have been also been substantial, as the number of graduates in humanities, social science, and teaching has declined, and the number in science, engineering, and business has increased, especially for women. However, while women are now more likely to complete a college degree than men, the distribution of college majors among college graduates remains unequal with women about 2/3 as likely as men to major in a business or science field. In this paper, we develop and estimate a dynamic overlapping generations model of human capital investment and employment decisions to understand these long-term changes in human capital investments. Our departure from the previous literature is that we separately examine college major choices, rather than aggregating these choices to the education level (e.g. college or no college). We overcome the absence of field of study information in the CPS and Census data by combining these data with auxiliary data sources which characterize the changes in field of study composition across a large number of birth cohorts. Results from counterfactual experiments show that changes in skill prices, higher schooling costs, and a reduction in the value of home for women all played an important role in the educational attainment and college major composition trends. The following are appended: (1) NSCG Data Appendix; (2) Model Solution Appendix; and (3) Type Parameter Estimates.
Institute for Education and Social Policy. New York University, Joseph and Violet Pless Hall, 82 Washington Square East, New York, NY 10003. Tel: 212-998-5880; Fax: 212-995-4564; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: New York University, Institute for Education and Social Policy (IESP)