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Life-Cycle, Effort and Academic Inactivity

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  • Chen, Yu-Fu
  • Zoeg, Gylfi

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Yu-Fu & Zoeg, Gylfi, 2011. "Life-Cycle, Effort and Academic Inactivity," SIRE Discussion Papers 2011-27, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  • Handle: RePEc:edn:sirdps:268
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10943/268
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    2. Frank, Robert H, 1984. "Are Workers Paid Their Marginal Products?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 549-571, September.
    3. Fair, Ray C, 1994. "How Fast Do Old Men Slow Down?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 103-118, February.
    4. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-1284, December.
    5. Chen, Yu-Fu & Zoega, Gylfi, 2010. "An essay on the generational effect of employment protection," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 349-359, May.
    6. 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 352-352.
    7. Jacob Mincer, 1958. "Investment in Human Capital and Personal Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 281-281.
    8. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
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    Keywords

    Inactivity; aging; optimal stopping;

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