Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 20 No. 3 (Summer 2006)


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Does the Academic Labor Market Initially Allocate New Graduates Efficiently?

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Smeets, Valérie, Frédéric Warzynski, and Tom Coupé. 2006. "Does the Academic Labor Market Initially Allocate New Graduates Efficiently?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(3): 161-172.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.20.3.161


It is not surprising that economics graduate students from elite and very good schools find better jobs after completion of their Ph.D. degree, on average, than do candidates from less prestigious universities. Yet the job market outcome for candidates from the same university varies quite a lot. While the top candidates from the elite schools are often able to find jobs in other elite universities, it is unclear how "average" candidates from elite schools fare compared to the top students from relatively less prestigious schools and how the relative job market outcome relates to future success as a researcher. The objective of this paper is to investigate these issues. In this paper, we compare the career trajectories of candidates coming from three different types of schools: elite universities, very good universities, and good universities. We define three types of graduates within each group: those who placed best; those who had an average placement; and those who found jobs at lower levels. Then, for each of these nine groups, we look at initial and current affiliations and we compare publication patterns of the graduates more than a decade into their academic careers. Can we say that the initial allocation was efficient, in the sense that those who placed higher were also more productive in research terms? And to what extent does the labor market for economists adapt and allow economists to move between schools as the ability of individuals to publish their work manifests itself over time?

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Smeets, Valérie
Warzynski, Frédéric
Coupé, Tom


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