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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 19, 2022

Major-Occupation Match Quality: An Empirical Measure Based on Relative Productivity

  • Margaret Leighton ORCID logo and Jamin D. Speer EMAIL logo


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.

JEL Classification: J24; J31; I23; I24; I26

Corresponding author: Jamin D. Speer, University of Memphis, Memphis, USA, E-mail:


We thank Tugce Cuhadaroglu, two anonymous referees and the editor for helpful comments.


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Supplementary Material

This article contains supplementary material (

Received: 2022-07-15
Accepted: 2022-12-06
Published Online: 2022-12-19

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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