EDUCATION POLICY

Being selective does not pay off

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Science  20 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6288, pp. 950-951
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6288.950-g

What you study, not where you study it, has the most impact on subsequent earnings—at least in Norway. Kirkeboen et al. studied the centralized postsecondary admissions system there and found that pursuit of a career in science instead of humanities almost tripled early career earnings, but attending a more selective school offered no advantage. This work has implications for explaining causes and consequences of postsecondary education choices. Consideration of alternative preferences and payoffs, and how shifting students from one field to another can ripple throughout the system, can inform policies aimed at expanding or contracting fields, as proposed by the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Quart. J. Econ. 10.1093/qje/qjw019 (2016).

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