Department of Economics Fall 2017 Seminar Series

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Date(s) - 10/27/2017
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

BSB 103, Behavioral Sciences Building

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The eighth seminar in the Department of Economics Seminar Series for the Fall 2017 term is Friday, 10/27/17. The seminars are open to everyone and are held in the Behavioral Sciences building, room 103, at 3:00pm.

This week’s speaker is Basit Zafar, Associate Professor in Economics at Arizona State University.  Before joining ASU, Zafar served for more than eight years in various capacities in the Research Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. His research is focused on labor economics, economics of education, and household finance. Specifically, his work seeks to understand how individuals make decisions under uncertainty. Zafar’s research employs a disparate set of empirical methods and techniques, including the use of subjective expectations data and experimental data. His academic articles have appeared in a range of top publications, including the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Review of Economic Studies, Review of Financial Studies, and International Economic Review.

Zafar is presenting his paper “Human Capital Investments and Expectations about Career and Family”


This paper studies how individuals believe human capital investments will affect their future career and family life. We conducted a survey of high-ability currently enrolled college students and elicited beliefs about how their choice of college major, and whether to complete their degree at all, would affect a wide array of future events, including future earnings, employment, marriage prospects, potential spousal characteristics, and fertility. We find that students perceive large “returns” to human capital not only in their own future earnings, but also in a number of other dimensions (such as future labor supply and potential spouse’s earnings). In a recent follow-up survey conducted six years after the initial data collection, we find a close connection between the expectations and current realizations. Finally, we show that both the career and family expectations help explain human capital choices.