Does 1 in 3 econometricians become a millionaire?

October 18, 2023

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If you are a student in the discipline called Econometrics then you must have heard something along the lines of ‘Oh wow, that’s difficult’, followed by ‘I have heard that 1 in every 3 econometrics students will become a millionaire’. While I have since learned to parade the first part of this reaction with a combination of coquetry and dismissal, I have yet to find a good answer to the second. Therefore, in this article I’ll try to get to the answer to the question: Does one in every 3 econometrics students become a millionaire?

Rumour has it

Firstly, let us try to grasp the scale and scope of the claim. Myself I have joined a new student association this year, and in meeting many new people there, I estimate that I have heard it over 20 times in the last 2 months. However, such little empirical evidence may not suffice. On the web, there are also many mentions of the claim on fora and other places. These sites are probably visited by people from different backgrounds and the sample size is now much larger than what a particular second year student has experienced. Thus, we can say that there exists a persistent idea in a rather broad section of Dutch society. However, we have only found strong signs that the idea is embedded in the thoughts of many people. But this does not in the slightest make it true. 

What is a millionaire?

Before we dive into some data it may be a good idea to get a clear picture of what a millionaire actually is. The customary definition of a millionaire is a person or household which possesses one million of the currency of the country it’s in, in liquid assets. That is, either the currency itself or another asset that can be quickly converted into this currency. Quite importantly, this means that something very illiquid like a house does not count. In the Netherlands, this implies a threshold of one million euros. In the Netherlands there were 317,000 millionaire households on 1 January 2021.     

Facts and figures

Let us now act like an authentic econometrician and take a look at some data. There are a lot of numbers on the starting salaries of graduated university students. Here, indeed, econometrics comes very high on the list. This is the list found on one site publishing this, where econometrics comes third:

  1. Dentistry – €5.620
  2. Medicine – €3.440
  3. Econometrics – €3.430
  4. International Business – €3.250
  5. Notarized & fiscal law – €3.250
  6. Computer science – €3.150
  7. Economics – €3.110

These are gross starting salaries for master graduates. With these salaries it is very hard to become a millionaire, but salaries tend to increase during your career. Having said all this, studying econometrics sets one up for jobs where one can make a lot of money, but the claim that 1 in 3 is a millionaire cannot be proved and is probably untrue. But if your goal in life is to get rich, then studying econometrics wouldn’t harm your chances. 

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