Alma Mat(t)er(s): Determinants of Early Career Success in Economics
42 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2014 Last revised: 17 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 16, 2014
We study 6000 author-publication observations to investigate predictors of early career success in six fields of Economics. Concentrating on top researchers enables us to control for the effects of ability and effort, and focusing on the start of their careers minimizes distortions from reputation feedback. Our results reveal that the most important predictor for early career success is the ranking of an author's PhD granting institution, followed by his first placement. Our insights suggest that a counterfactual decrease in the Alma mater of a high ability author, who graduated from a top 10 university, by as little as 10 to 20 ranks, reduces his probability of getting a top 5 publication significantly by 13 percentage points. Lowering the ranking of his Alma mater by another 80 ranks decreases his chances of getting a top publication by a factor of three. Our findings suggest that the Economics publication market values Alma mater signals, discounting newcomers graduating from- or working at lower ranked departments.
Keywords: academia, publishing, journals, Alma mater, affiliation
JEL Classification: A11, I23, I24, J44
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