Discussion paper

DP11250 Sociocultural Background and Choice of STEM Majors at University

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.


Osikominu, A and V Grossmann (2016), ‘DP11250 Sociocultural Background and Choice of STEM Majors at University‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 11250. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp11250