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Incentives

  • The median starting salary in 2008 for economics majors was $50,200 and the median mid-career salary was $101,000. Greg Mankiw astutely reminds us that these data do not account for sorting and self selection.
  • Economics majors rank 4th among majors in terms of average starting salaries – trailing only Engineering, Computer Programming and Mathematics. But for those of you with an appropriately low discount rate, is knowing that the average starting salary of an economics major is $43,419 all that meaningful? What about lifetime earnings profiles? Does it matter where you went to school? And what about other covariates? What is the option value? Regardless, this is useful as a first pass.
  • Why you should become an econ major
  • S&P 500 CEOs and Economics majors:
    • It is often suggested that Economics is a good major for individuals interested in becoming business leaders. Despite this widespread assertion, little research has been conducted on this topic. Using the Standard and Poor (S&P) 500 companies, this paper examines the validity of such a claim. We find evidence that Economics is a good choice of major for those aspiring to become a CEO. Economics ranked third with 9% of the CEOs of the S&P 500 companies in 2004 being undergraduate Economics majors, behind Business Administration and Engineering majors, each of which accounted for 20% of the CEOs. When adjusting for size of the pool of graduates, those with undergraduate degrees in Economics are shown to have had a greater likelihood of becoming an S&P 500 CEO than any other major. That is, the share of graduates who were Economics majors who were CEOs in 2004 was greater than that for any other major, including Business Administration and Engineering. The findings also show that a higher percentage of CEOs who were Economics majors subsequently completed a graduate degree – often an MBA – than did their counterparts with Business Administration and Engineering degrees. The paper demonstrates that while women now comprise over half of all bachelors and masters degrees awarded, they remain a minority in terms of undergraduate degrees awarded in Economics and in MBA degrees conferred. Economics programs may try to appeal to more women students as a stepping stone to becoming a CEO, especially as women continue to account for less than 2 percent of the S&P 500 CEOs.

Overview

News

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Internship Opportunities

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Other Resources – And Places to Look for Jobs

  • The American Economic Association helps schools, think tanks, government organizations, private firms and non-profit research institutions recruit PhD and Masters level economists. They have an online board where jobs for economists are posted monthly. You will find that nearly all of the non-academic institutions listed also offer positions for entry level jobs for students with a major (or interest) in economics. You can see the listings here.
  • Similarly, this resource is called Economist jobs on Econ-jobs.com seems to aimed at a more professional audience, but many of the places hiring may be of interest to students with BA degrees.
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