De Economist

, Volume 145, Issue 2, pp 159–177 | Cite as

Is There a Hidden Technical Potential?

  • Hessel Oosterbeek
  • Dinand Webbink


This paper analyzes the determinants of choosing a technical study at university level and of staying in it. We find that – in The Netherlands – there is little correlation between the probability of a student choosing a technical study and the probability of completing it. This implies that a substantial number of technically talented people choose non-technical studies. Especially female students and students from high income families are unlikely to attent a technical study but these students are relatively successful in such studies. A large part of these technically talented students are attracted to medical studies and law schools, where they are no more likely to persist than other medical and law students. This finding is predicted by the tournament model in which rewards are based on relative performance instead of absolute performance.


High Income Income Family International Economic Public Finance Medical Study 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hessel Oosterbeek
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Dinand Webbink
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Max Groote Centre for Vocational Eduction and TrainingThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Tinbergen InstituteThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Foundation for Economic ResearchUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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