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Life-Cycle, Effort and Academic Inactivity

  • Chen, Yu-Fu
  • Zoeg, Gylfi

It has been observed that university professors sometimes become less research active in their later years. This paper models the decision to become inactive as a utility maximising problem under conditions of uncertainty and derives an age-dependent activity condition for the level of research productivity. The model implies that professors who are close to retirement age are more likely to become inactive when faced with setbacks in their research while those who continue research do not lower their activity levels. Using data from the University of Iceland, we find support for the model’s predictions. The model suggests that universities should induce their older faculty to remain research active by striving to make their research more productive and enjoyable, maintaining peer pressure, reducing job security and offering higher performance related pay.

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Paper provided by Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE) in its series SIRE Discussion Papers with number 2011-27.

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Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edn:sirdps:268
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  1. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
  2. Yu-Fu Chen & Gylfi Zoega, 2009. "An essay on the generational effect of employment protection," Birkbeck Working Papers in Economics and Finance 0915, Birkbeck, Department of Economics, Mathematics & Statistics.
  3. Jacob Mincer & Haim Ofek, 1982. "Interrupted Work Careers: Depreciation and Restoration of Human Capital," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(1), pages 3-24.
  4. Ray C. Fair, 1991. "How Fast Do Old Men Slow Down?," NBER Working Papers 3757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Frank, Robert H, 1984. "Are Workers Paid Their Marginal Products?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 549-71, September.
  6. Ray Fair, 2004. "Estimated Age Effects in Athletic Events and Chess," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2481, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Aug 2007.
  7. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  9. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-84, December.
  10. Jacob Mincer, 1958. "Investment in Human Capital and Personal Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 281.
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