Here's a new angle on the jobs crisis facing people with Ph.D.'s.
The economics blogger Mike Mandel was curious about the role that various credentials play in the U.S. economy. Sorting through some statistics on college degrees, he was surprised to learn that fully 35 percent of college graduates have a degree beyond the B.A., up from 32.7 percent in 1999. "That seems pretty good, doesn't it?" he writes. "More and more of our college grads are getting advanced degrees, which is exactly what we would want to help foster innovation." The growth is at the masters (and professional) level, however: the proportion of workers with Ph.D's is on a slight downward curve, dipping under 4.5 percent in 2007 and still dropping.
That's doesn't represent an exodus, but perhaps people should flee the Ph.D. path, given another figure Mandel uncovered. While the inflation-adusted earnings of workers with bachelor's or masters degrees have increased very slightly since 1999--a rise of one percent or less--the story was quite different for the doctorate. Employees with Ph.D.'s can expect to earn 10 percent less, in real dollars, than they would have a decade ago. "Yowza," Mandel writes.
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Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.