Major-occupation match quality: an empirical measure based on relative productivity

Margaret A. Leighton, Jamin D. Speer*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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    The match quality between a worker’s field of study in college and her occupation is an important labor market outcome. Yet this match quality is difficult to define and measure. We propose a new measure of major-occupation match quality based on relative productivity. A worker is well-matched if graduates from her major, working in her occupation, have high earnings relative to other major-occupation pairs. We show that some majors can be very well-matched or very badly matched (e.g., nursing), while others are never very well- or badly matched (e.g., humanities). Our measure has two desirable features: it is continuous, and it can be estimated in any data set including field of study, wage, and occupation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)285-292
    Number of pages8
    JournalThe B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy
    Issue number1
    Early online date19 Dec 2022
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


    • College major
    • Match quality
    • Mismatch
    • Higher education
    • Occupations


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