Thursday, October 25, 2018

Marginal analysis and choice of majors

MarginalRevolution documents the comparative--not absolute--advantage of boys in STEM subjects:
Loosely speaking the situation will be something like this: females will say I got As in history and English and B’s in Science and Math, therefore, I should follow my strengthens and specialize in drawing on the same skills as history and English. Boys will say I got B’s in Science and Math and C’s in history and English, therefore, I should follow my strengths and do something involving Science and Math.

This analysis done by females can be understood using Marginal analysis, i.e., if MCMath > MCEnglish for females, then the MC of doing math is greater than that of English, so they devote more effort to English.  However, this ignores the hidden benefits of studying Math.  It is more likely that (MRMath-MCMath) > (MREnglish-MCEnglish).  or that the marginal profitability of Math is greater than that of English. The expressions in parentheses are the marginal profitability of each activity.


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  2. It is interesting to see how marginal analysis applies to something very basic but yet, may explain why fewer females are in STEM. In Nigeria, girls mostly perform better in most subjects during the primary/basic education stage but along the line, boys eventually dominate the STEM fields. It will be interesting to see if more research can test this phenomenon.

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  4. This is interesting. I wonder how we can help people change their behavior from choosing the path of least resistance to the path of greatest marginal profit. I can see a lot of applications for individual behavioral patterns that apply here like dieting, learning a new skill like coding, or spending time networking.

  5. I appreciate that although the concept of marginal analysis is being used, it simply points to the overarching concept that hard work truly does pay off. Just because something is easier, or in this case at a lower cost to you, does not mean it will have the best results.


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