Are There Fast Tracks in Economic Departments? Evidence from a Sample of Top Economists

Aarhus School of Business Economics Working Paper No. 04-4

23 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2004  

Valérie Smeets

Aarhus School of Business; Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES)

Date Written: April 2004

Abstract

In this paper, we analyze the timing of promotions in academic departments. Contrary to previous attempts in the empirical literature, we test alternative theories of fast tracks by adding a measure of performance in our analysis. We find that learning from past performance is an important factor to explain the time spent as assistant and associate professor. In addition, our analysis shows the existence of a handicapping policy: individuals who had a fast promotion in the past are less likely to be promoted quickly again. We also find that the handicap is relative, that it does not survive the whole career and that it is possible for these individuals to beat it if they achieve a given level of productivity. We interpret our findings as evidence that incentives and sorting matter in academia and that using relative handicaps can help to balance these two concerns. Finally, we look at the productivity pattern of individuals with different career profiles and find that fast tracks are always more productive than their pairs, even after the last promotion, what suggests an effective selection process.

Keywords: Fast track, incentives, sorting, productivity, economic departments

JEL Classification: J41, M51

Suggested Citation

Smeets, Valérie, Are There Fast Tracks in Economic Departments? Evidence from a Sample of Top Economists (April 2004). Aarhus School of Business Economics Working Paper No. 04-4. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=528622 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.528622

Valérie Smeets (Contact Author)

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES)

Ave. Franklin D Roosevelt, 50 - C.P. 114
Brussels, B-1050
Belgium

Aarhus School of Business ( email )

Haslegaardsvej 10
DK-8210 Aarhus, 8210
Denmark

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