Economics a Good Choice of Major Essay example

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Economics: Good Choice of Major for Future CEOs
By Patricia M. Flynn and Michael A. Quinn* Abstract 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
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To address this question, we use statistical and econometric techniques, including logistic analysis. We find evidence to support the claim that Economics is a good choice for graduates who aspire to become a corporate CEO; especially for Economics majors who complete an MBA degree.


The paper proceeds with a discussion of the educational backgrounds of S&P 500 CEOs in 2004. This is followed by a review of trends in the absolute and relative size of undergraduate degrees awarded in Economics since 1960, and a discussion of the patterns by gender for undergraduate and MBA degrees. Thereafter, the paper examines the likelihood of individuals with Economics degrees and other degrees becoming a CEO. II. Educational Backgrounds of the S&P 500 CEOs2 Over 98 percent of the S&P 500 CEOs in 2004 had a bachelor’s degree. Liberal Arts, Science & Engineering, and Business graduates are all well-represented among these CEOs. Liberal Arts graduates comprise the largest group with just over one-third (34.3%) of these business leaders. Economics majors are the largest subset of the Liberal Arts graduates, with approximately nine percent (9.2%) of the CEOs holding an undergraduate degree in Economics. Liberal arts majors in History and Political Science follow with 5.0% and 4.2% of the CEOs, respectively. Twentyeight percent (28.1%) of the CEOs have Science & Engineering degrees, approximately threequarters of which are in Engineering. Another

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