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Exposure to academic fields and college major choice

, Stanford University ; , University of Chicago ; , University of Munich, Germany

Economics of Education Review Volume 64, Number 1, ISSN 0272-7757 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


This study investigates how exposure to a field of study influences students’ major choices. If students have incomplete information, exposure potentially helps them to learn about the scope of a field as well as how well the field matches their interest and abilities. We exploit a natural experiment where university students have to write a research paper in business, economics, or law during their first year before they choose a major. Due to oversubscription of business papers, the field of the paper is assigned quasi-randomly. We find that writing in economics raises the probability of majoring in economics by 2.7 percentage points. We show further that this effect varies across subfields: the effect is driven by assignment to topics less typical of the public's perception of the field of economics, suggesting students learn through exposure that the field is broader than they thought.


Fricke, H., Grogger, J. & Steinmayr, A. (2018). Exposure to academic fields and college major choice. Economics of Education Review, 64(1), 199-213. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved February 1, 2023 from .

This record was imported from Economics of Education Review on March 1, 2019. Economics of Education Review is a publication of Elsevier.

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