How Much is it Worth? An Empirical Study of the Value of STEM Degrees in Michigan
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There is a constant debate over which college degrees have the best returns on their investment. Many economists believe that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degrees offer the highest returns, with more job opportunities in the future as well as higher earnings. This study attempts to examine the payoff of STEM degrees in the state of Michigan compared to non-STEM degrees. Using a CIP-SOC crosswalk to determine which occupations are matched to educational programs, the author used Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) data on wages and projections to determine the value of educational programs. The author found that STEM degrees were matched with occupations that earned higher wages. In addition, STEM degrees were linked to occupations with higher growth rates and greater proportion of annual openings due to growth. These results support the theory of STEM degrees offering higher value compared to other degrees. With higher wages and more occupational openings in the future, the study also defends the idea of there being a STEM shortage in the State of Michigan in the near future.