Are All High-Skilled Cohorts Created Equal? Unemployment, Gender, and Research Productivity

Uppsala University Working Paper 2012:13, September 2012

Posted: 29 Sep 2012

See all articles by John P. Conley

John P. Conley

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics

Ali Sina Önder

University of Portsmouth

Benno Torgler

Queensland University of Technology; CREMA; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 23, 2012

Abstract

Using life cycle publication data of 9,368 economics PhD graduates from 127 U.S. institutions, we investigate how unemployment in the U.S. economy prior to starting graduate studies and at the time of entry into the academic job market affect economics PhD graduates’ research productivity. We analyze the period between 1987 and 1996 and find that favorable conditions at the time of academic job search have a positive effect on research productivity (measured in numbers of publications) for both male and female graduates. On the other hand, unfavorable employment conditions at the time of entry into graduate school affects female research productivity negatively, but male productivity positively. These findings are consistent with the notion that men and women differ in their perception of risk in high skill occupations. In the specific context of research-active occupations that require high skill and costly investment in human capital, an ex post poor return on undergraduate educational investment may cause women to opt for less risky and secure occupations while men seem more likely to “double down” on their investment in human capital. Further investigation, however, shows that additional factors may also be at work.

Keywords: Research Productivity, Human Capital, Graduate Education, Gender Differences

JEL Classification: J16, J24

Suggested Citation

Conley, John P. and Önder, Ali Sina and Torgler, Benno, Are All High-Skilled Cohorts Created Equal? Unemployment, Gender, and Research Productivity (September 23, 2012). Uppsala University Working Paper 2012:13, September 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2153608 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2153608

John P. Conley

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States

Ali Sina Önder (Contact Author)

University of Portsmouth ( email )

Portsmouth PO4 8JF
United Kingdom

Benno Torgler

Queensland University of Technology ( email )

GPO Box 2434
2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4001
Australia

CREMA

Gellertstrasse 18
Basel
Zurich, CH 8006
Switzerland

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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