Starting out in a recession 'boosts productivity'

Academics who complete their PhDs during a recession are significantly more productive in the long-term than those who do so during a boom, research suggests.

February 15, 2014

Michael Boehm, a researcher at the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance and Bonn University, looked at data from the top 30 universities in the United States from 1955 to 1994.

He found that among students of economics, those who completed their PhDs during a recession went on to produce comparatively more research during their careers, “a fact attributed to the stiff competition for jobs and a need to prove themselves”.

Even though the study focused only on American economists, Dr Boehm argued that the results would “most likely” apply in other countries and disciplines.

The results contrast with the fortunes of those entering the private sector during a recession, he added.

“There is already a lot of evidence out there to show that if you start your career in a recession it can have an ongoing effect for many years. Many people who enter the private sector after graduating can expect to earn a lot less for at least a decade,” he said.

“The academic sector is more stable during a recession – certainly in terms of job security – and there is no real noticeable drop in salaries, unlike the private sector.”

Dr Boehm concluded that this meant that during a recession, universities wielded more power to recruit the most talented in the job market.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest