Having double majors could make you less vulnerable to layoffs and AI


The benefits of pursuing a double major in college extend beyond enhancing one's resume. According to a recent working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, individuals with a double major are 56% less likely than those with a single major to experience negative "earnings shocks," such as job losses or pay cuts. This advantage could prove crucial in a future where AI technologies are expected to reshape the job market.

The analysis, based on data from the American Community Survey between 2009 and 2019, encompassed nearly 1.5 million working US adults. The study's lead author, Andrew Hanks, highlighted that individuals with a double major are more adaptable and possess a broader range of skills, potentially enabling them to navigate the impact of AI in the job market more effectively.

The researchers speculate that the protective effect of double majors may stem from the diversified skills of these individuals. Bruce Weinberg, an economics professor at Ohio State University, suggests that compared to single majors focused on a specific occupation or industry, double majors have the flexibility to distance themselves from income shocks originating from a particular field. This flexibility allows them to remain competitive and resilient in the face of industry disruptions caused by AI advancements.

Moreover, a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania in 2021 revealed that double majors tend to earn more throughout their careers, with STEM and business double majors experiencing the most significant income boost.

Although pursuing a double major may entail additional stress and expenses, especially for some students, the potential benefits of preparing for a future where AI tools are prevalent in the workplace make this educational path worthwhile for many. Notably, while Generation Z has shown greater familiarity with AI tools compared to older generations, there remains a level of concern among them regarding these technologies, as demonstrated by a survey conducted by LinkedIn.

Overall, the evidence suggests that double majoring in college not only offers tangible benefits in terms of job security and income but also equips individuals with the adaptability and diverse skillset needed to thrive in an evolving job market impacted by AI technologies.  

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