The Effects of the Great Recession on College Majors

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How did the Great Recession affect the college degree fields? Utilizing the geographic variation in the severity of the recession in the US, I answer this question using the differences-in-differences and synthetic controls approaches. To explore these effects systematically, I categorize fields based on their sensitivity to the recession. The results show that there was a shift from recession-sensitive majors towards recession-resistant majors. The effects were immediate and larger for more local institutions. These findings suggest that students’ expectations about future labor market outcomes are affected by shocks to the current local labor market conditions.


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