Faculty without Students: Resource Allocation in Higher Education
Colleges and universities display substantial differences in the ratio of students to faculty across fields or disciplines. At Harvard University, for example, economics has about 16 students majoring in the subject per full-time-teaching equivalent, while in other departments such as astronomy, Slavic, German, and Celtic, the number of teaching faculty exceeds the number of student majors. We begin by presenting some evidence on the extent of the variation in faculty resource allocation by field and the broad changes over the last several decades. We then consider potential economic explanations for these striking patterns. For example, a basic education production function, which seeks to maximize aggregate student learning subject to a faculty salary budget constraint, will require that faculty be allocated across fields so that relative marginal gains in student learning equal relative faculty salaries. Differences across fields in student-faculty ratios could then arise either from differences in the pedagogical technology across fields or variation in relative faculty salaries. Additional university goals, such as research and graduate program productivity, or adjustment costs, as imposed by the tenure system, could also generate variation across fields in student-faculty ratios. However, we have only limited evidence that these arguments can explain the ongoing disparities in student-faculty ratios across fields and disciplines, which suggests that a substantial part of the explanation may reside in the politics rather than the economics of decision making in institutions of higher education.
Volume (Year): 23 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/jep/|
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:||Web: https://www.aeaweb.org/subscribe.html|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- John Bound & Sarah Turner, 2007. "Understanding the Increased Time to the Baccalaureate Degree," Discussion Papers 06-043, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
- Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2006.
"The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap,"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 133-156, Fall.
- Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," NBER Working Papers 12139, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Goldin, Claudia & Kuziemko, Ilyana & Katz, Lawrence, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Scholarly Articles 2962611, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Michael Rothschild & Lawrence J. White, 1993. "The University in the Marketplace: Some Insights and Some Puzzles," NBER Chapters,in: Studies of Supply and Demand in Higher Education, pages 11-42 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Michael Rothschild & Lawrence J. White, 1991. "The University in the Marketplace: Some Insights and Some Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 3853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kahn, Lisa B., 2010. "The long-term labor market consequences of graduating from college in a bad economy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 303-316, April.
- Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Peter J. Hurst, 1996. "The 1995 NRC Ratings of Doctoral Programs: A Hedonic Model," NBER Working Papers 5523, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Polachek, Solomon William, 1981. "Occupational Self-Selection: A Human Capital Approach to Sex Differences in Occupational Structure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(1), pages 60-69, February.
- Sargent, Thomas J, 1978. "Estimation of Dynamic Labor Demand Schedules under Rational Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 1009-1044, December.
- Thomas J. Sargent, 1978. "Estimation of dynamic labor demand schedules under rational expectations," Staff Report 27, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 2004. "Prospects in the Academic Labor Market for Economists," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 227-238, Spring.
- Bound, John & Turner, Sarah, 2007. "Cohort crowding: How resources affect collegiate attainment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 877-899, June.
- John Bound & Sarah Turner, 2006. "Cohort Crowding: How Resources Affect Collegiate Attainment," NBER Working Papers 12424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Richard B. Freeman, 1976. "A Cobweb Model of the Supply and Starting Salary of New Engineers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 29(2), pages 236-248, January.
- Richard Sabot & John Wakeman-Linn, 1991. "Grade Inflation and Course Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 159-170, Winter.
- Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael J. Rizzo & George H. Jakubson, 2003. "Who Bears the Growing Cost of Science at Universities?," NBER Working Papers 9627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jeff Grogger & Eric Eide, 1995. "Changes in College Skills and the Rise in the College Wage Premium," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(2), pages 280-310. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)