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Friday, August 16, 2013

'Top Economics Graduate Programs are Not as Good as You Think'

"The median Harvard student has after six years only 0.04 AER equivalent publications":

Top Economics graduate programs are not as good as you think, Economic Logician: Along with business schools, Economics is where pedigree matters most in the placement of PhD students to academic positions. Students from top ranked (or considered such) programs have a job almost guaranteed in research universities, and students from lower ranked universities find it very hard to break into such universities no matter what their performance is. ...
John Conley and Ali Sina Onder find that while there is indeed a steep gradient across program rankings, there is an even steeper gradient within programs. They use student rankings within programs and cohorts and their publication output after six years, that is, when they are up for tenure. Looking at AER equivalents, they find that the top Toronto student is equivalent to the number three from Berkeley, for example. And to illustrate how steep the gradient is, the median Harvard student has after six years only 0.04 AER equivalent publications, despite coming from the #2 program. This means that more than half of Harvard students are not tenurable in any research-oriented institution.
I see two major conclusions from this: 1) Stop worrying so much about where PhD students are graduating from. It is OK to hire students from lower ranked programs as long as they excelled in those programs. 2) Even the top places should acknowledge that not all students should take research positions and need to prepare them for other ones, like industry, government or purely teaching jobs. These students are screwed twice: they are sent to tenure-track positions that they will never get tenure in, and they are woefully unprepared for the jobs they should take.

We have endowed chairs held by people from Berkeley and Princeton, and they are publication monsters, but we have also done extraordinarily well finding the "diamonds in the rough," i.e. hiring the top students from the second-tier of graduate schools. The best among them are every bit as good.

    Posted by on Friday, August 16, 2013 at 12:15 AM in Economics, Productivity | Permalink  Comments (17)


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