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April 19, 2012

Which College Majors Pay Best?

Phil Izzo:

We know that a college diploma boosts earnings, but a student's choice of major also plays a big part.

The gap wages rates between electrical-engineering and general-education majors is nearly as large as the difference between college graduates and high school graduates, according to a wide-ranging study by Joseph G. Altonji, Erica Blom and Costas Meghir of Yale University.

The economists examine the large differences in labor-market outcomes across college majors in several ways. In one section of their paper, they look at data on wages by college major obtained through the Census Bureau's 2009 American Community Survey. They find that among other things, math skills are correlated to higher earnings. "Wages tend to be high for engineers and low for elementary education majors, suggesting that perhaps much of the wage differences between majors are due to differences in mathematical ability and high school course work," the authors write.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at April 19, 2012 2:58 AM
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