DP11250 Sociocultural Background and Choice of STEM Majors at University

Author(s): Volker Grossmann, Aderonke Osikominu, Marius Osterfeld
Publication Date: April 2016
Keyword(s): Choice of field of study, Generalized Roy model, Sociocultural environment, STEM fields
JEL(s): I20
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11250

This paper examines the role of the sociocultural background of students for choosing STEM majors at university. We combine survey data on university graduates in Switzerland with municipality level information from the census, referenda and elections. We characterize a student's home environment with respect to political attitudes and religious background. Our empirical estimates are based on a generalized Roy model for the choice of study field. Identification exploits individual differences in the cost of studying a STEM field. Students from conservative backgrounds are more likely to study a STEM field, with a stronger response of men compared with women.