It’s widely believed that among the data gathered for the American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, the inclusion of college major choice as a data point has proved critical to a better understanding of the value higher education attainment has in the U.S. economy and workforce.
This conviction is driving researchers, such as economist Jeff Strohl, to oppose a Census Bureau proposal that the agency drop the college major question from the American Community Survey (ACS). As director of research at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), Strohl can point to influential research studies the center has undertaken that have relied extensively on college major survey data.
Since 2009, following a push by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation, the bureau has collected college major data for the ACS. The ACS, which is conducted in the years between the decennial censuses, collects demographic and social trend information from more than three million American households.
“We were probably one of the first [organizations] off-the-block using the American Community Survey on the [college] major question,” he said. “And we produced a report called ‘What’s It Worth,’ which details the economic returns to 171 [Bachelor of Arts] majors and the impact of getting a graduate degree for those majors by race, ethnicity, and gender.” <Read more.>