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Nationwide Study Dispels Myth That Jews Gravitate Toward Business Careers

December 28, 1971
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An old myth that Jews gravitate toward careers in business was dispelled by a nationwide survey of college freshmen just released here which showed that only ten percent of the Jewish students planned to major in business compared by 16.7 percent of the non-Jewish students. The survey was conducted by sociologist David E. Drew of the Washington-based American Council on Education, an umbrella organization of colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning. It was commissioned by the American Jewish Committee to pin-point differences and similarities between Jewish and non-Jewish students.

The survey was based on a sampling of 170,000 1969 freshmen–ten percent of the national total–of whom 4.2 percent were Jews. It covered both four year colleges and junior (two year) colleges. The study revealed that 39 percent of the Jewish freshmen questioned agreed with the statement, “The chief benefit of a college education is that it increases one’s earning power.” The comparable figure for non-Jews was 54 percent.

The survey also found a marked difference in certain social attitudes between Jewish and non-Jewish students and between Jews enrolled in four year colleges and those in junior colleges. Jewish students in two year colleges were more likely than non-Jewish students to plan business careers. They were less likely than Jewish students in four year colleges to favor US government control of cigarette advertising and more likely to support special benefits for veterans. The study showed that Jewish freshmen in four year colleges had better high school records than non-Jews while the reverse was true at junior colleges.

Jewish freshmen at four year colleges tended to be more liberal than non-Jewish students. About 60 percent of them compared with 24 percent of non-Jews favored legalization of marijuana; 63 percent of Jews and 54 percent of non-Jews supported a volunteer army and 60 percent of Jews and 36 percent of non-Jews favored more liberal divorce laws. Nearly 90 percent of Jews and 75 percent of non-Jews supported legal abortions. The study also revealed that the percentage of Jews in freshmen classes declined slightly as greater numbers of high school graduates entered colleges.

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