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The Biomedical Workforce in the US: An Example of Positive Feedbacks

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  • Paula E. Stephan

Abstract

This paper makes the case that the biomedical workforce in the United States is characterized by positive feedbacks. The paper begins by setting out background information on (1) the way in which research is structured in the biomedical sciences; (2) the reward structure among biomedical researchers; and (3) the funding enterprise for biomedical sciences. After addressing these three key components, the paper examines what these mean in terms of the market for graduate stud ents, postdocs and faculty. It then explores ways in which the positive-feedback mechanisms could be dampened. It concludes that the presence of positive feedbacks in the biomedical workforce is a result of system-wide problems. Any fix requires changing incentives. This is unlikely to occur as long as the U.S. Congress and faculty have their way.

Suggested Citation

  • Paula E. Stephan, 2010. "The Biomedical Workforce in the US: An Example of Positive Feedbacks," ICER Working Papers 11-2010, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:icr:wpicer:11-2010
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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. Vietorisz, Thomas & Harrison, Bennett, 1973. "Labor Market Segmentation: Positive Feedback and Divergent Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 366-376, May.
    3. Stephan, Paula E., 2010. "The Economics of Science," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, in: Bronwyn H. Hall & Nathan Rosenberg (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 217-273, Elsevier.
    4. Paula E. Stephan, 2010. "The Economics of Science - Funding for Research," ICER Working Papers 12-2010, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    5. Patrick Gaulé & Mario Piacentini, 2013. "Chinese Graduate Students and U.S. Scientific Productivity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 698-701, May.
    6. Paul M. Romer, 2001. "Should the Government Subsidize Supply or Demand in the Market for Scientists and Engineers?," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 1, pages 221-252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. William R. Kerr, 2008. "Ethnic Scientific Communities and International Technology Diffusion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 518-537, August.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. How We're Unintentionally Defunding the National Institutes of Health
      by ? in Pacific Standard. Smart Journalism. Real Solutions. on 2013-11-27 20:00:00
    2. Structural problems in academic science
      by ? in Gravity's Rainbow on 2013-12-05 07:18:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Antonelli Cristiano & Ferraris Gianluigi, 2012. "Endogenous knowledge externalities: an agent based simulation model where schumpeter meets Marshall," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 201202, University of Turin.

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