TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Research Productivity of New PhDs in Economics

John P. Conley (Vanderbilt University) & Ali Sina Önder (University of Bayreuth), The Research Productivity of New PhDs in Economics: The Surprisingly High Non-Success of the Successful:

Our evidence shows that only the top 10–20 percent of a typical graduating class of economics PhD students are likely to accumulate a research record that might lead to tenure at a medium-level research university. Perhaps the most striking finding from our data is that graduating from a top department is neither necessary nor sufficient for becoming a successful research economist. Top researchers come from across the ranks of PhD-granting institutions, and lower-ranked departments produce stars with some regularity, although with lower frequency than the higher-ranked departments. Most of the graduates of even the very highest-ranked departments produce little, if any, published research. Indeed, we find that PhD graduates of equal percentile rank from certain lower-ranked departments have stronger publication records than their counterparts at higher-ranked departments. In our data, for example, Carnegie Mellon’s graduates at the 85th percentile of year-six research productivity outperform 85th percentile graduates of the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and Berkeley.


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