Income and preferences for career choice
Last registered on May 13, 2019


Trial Information
General Information
Income and preferences for career choice
Initial registration date
April 30, 2019
Last updated
May 13, 2019 11:33 PM EDT

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Primary Investigator
ifo Institut, Munich
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
ifo Institut, Munich
PI Affiliation
ifo Institut, Munich
PI Affiliation
ifo Institut, Munich
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
In this experiment we investigate to what extent differences in preferences for earnings over the life cycle explain preferences for different career paths. We implement a survey experiment in a representative sample of adults that asks respondents to indicate their preferences for one of two career paths. Respondents will be randomly selected into a labeled or an unlabeled treatment group: In the first case, respondents will know the annual income over the life cycle for each career path; in the second case, respondents will additionally be aware that one career requires vocational education, while the other requires university education. This experimental setup allows us to analyse to what extent factors other than income contribute to explaining preferences over career- and education choices.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Grewenig, Elisabeth et al. 2019. "Income and preferences for career choice." AEA RCT Registry. May 13.
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Experimental Details
We conduct our experiment in the context of a large survey on education in Germany. Respondents are randomly allocated to either a labeled or an unlabeled treatment condition, and are then asked to choose which of two hypothetical career paths they would recommend to their child. In the unlabeled condition, respondents receive no further information on the career paths, which are referred to as options 1 and 2. In the labeled condition, respondents are informed that option 1 entails pursuing a vocational education, while option 2 requires obtaining a university degree. This research design allows us to investigate to what extent preferences for academic and vocational careers are driven by differences in preferences for earnings over the life cycle.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
We are mainly interested in the choice between career paths 1 and 2, elicited in the questionnaire
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Respondents will be presented with a graph that shows two different income paths over the life cycle, one similar to the one experienced by the median German university graduate and the other one similar to the one experienced by the median German that obtains a vocational degree (Geselle) as their highest education qualification.

Respondents are then asked to indicate, assuming they have a child that has to decide between these two career paths, which path they would recommend.

Question: “Imagine having a child in its adolescence who can choose between two career paths. The chart shows how much it would earn annually in the course of its life in each of the two cases. Option 2's annual income is initially lower and later higher than option 1.
What would you advise your child to do?”
o Option 1 [in labeled group]: Vocational education (apprenticeship)
o Option 2 [in labeled group]: University enrollment

In addition to the main survey, we plan to conduct a follow-up survey about two weeks after main survey completion. In the follow-up survey, all respondents from the main survey will be invited to participate a second time. To investigate treatment effect persistence, all respondents will be asked to answer the unlabeled version of the career path question mentioned above.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1. We are interested in the heterogeneity of preferences by respondents’ education background
2. We are also interested in the heterogeneity by preferences for financial independence
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
For heterogeneity by respondents’ own education background we use questions from a sociodemographic module in the questionnaire

For heterogeneity by preferences for financial independence we ask respondents to indicate what is more important to them, early financial independence or a high income over the life cycle.
Question: “Assume you had a child in adolescence. Which aspect would be more important for you regarding your child’s career path?
Answers: Six-point scale from “early financial independence much more important” to “a high lifetime income much more important”
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We conduct the experiment in a sample of more than 4,000 adults. The sampling and polling is done in cooperation with KANTAR Public, who use an online-access panel to recruit respondents. The questions are answered by respondents independently, without interviewer contact.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization is carried out by the survey company KANTAR Public on questionnaire level.
Randomization Unit
at the individual level
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
4,000 respondents
Sample size: planned number of observations
4,000 adults aged 18 and older
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
2,000 respondents in each treatment arm
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number