Satisfied or Money Back: Should Policy Keep Educating PhD Holders Despite Market Frictions?
Co-authored by Cindy Lopes Bento
The paper is framed in the ongoing debate around whether universities produce too many PhD students in light of the limited number of available permanent faculty positions.
The work contributes to the current understanding of the job market for academics by comparing job satisfaction and motivations of PhD holders outside of academia (industry or public sector) to those in academia, and by comparing job satisfaction and motivations of PhD holders and PhD dropouts.
The analysis relies on a unique survey of 608 PhD grant applicants (funded and not) to the Luxembourgish Funding Council, which attracts many international applicants and funds studies abroad or within Luxembourg from 2009-2019.
Primary data is complemented with career information from Web-search, Web Archive, LinkedIn profiles, publicly available dissertations, other CVs or public profiles e.g. Scopus, Google Scholar, Researchgate.
Empirically, the analysis shows that despite similar preferences, PhD holders and dropouts differ in actual job outcomes, and importantly, in their job satisfaction. This is largely explained by job content.
The analysis shows that many PhD graduates leave academia and that this does not result in lower job satisfaction, they even may be more satisfied despite a preference for academic employment.
The results also find that graduates are more satisfied in their jobs than dropouts.
These findings are of relevance to employers and policy as they inform them on the job match of graduates and on the opportunity cost of pursuing a PhD.
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