International Trends in Economics Degrees During the 1990s.
Siegfried, John J.
Round, David K.
Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United States experienced a substantial decline in undergraduate degrees in economics from 1992 through 1996, followed immediately by a modest recovery. This cycle does not conform to overall degree trends, shifts in the gender composition of undergraduate populations, or changing interests of female students in any of the four countries. There is no evidence that changes in the "price" of a degree to students, tightened marking standards or degree requirements, or changes in pedagogical methods caused the cycle either. Jobs for economics graduates declined in the U.S. between 1988 and 1990, and thereafter recovered. With a two-year recognition lag, the pattern of employment prospects fits the U.S. slump in economics degrees perfectly. Unfortunately, employment patterns in the other three countries are inconsistent with the degree cycle. The explanation that fits the economic degree pattern best is interest in business education. Undergraduate economics degree counts for the U.S. updated through June 2000 are reported in the appendix.