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An Empirical Guide to Hiring Assistant Professors in Economics


  • John P. Conley

    () (Vanderbilt University)

  • Ali Sina Onder

    () (Universität Bayreuth)


We study the research productivity of new graduates of top Ph.D. programs in economics. We find that class rank is as important as departmental rank as predictors of future research productivity. For example the best graduate from UIUC or Toronto in a given year will have roughly the same number of American Economic Review (AER) equivalent publications at year six after graduation as the number three graduate from Berkeley, U. Penn or Yale. We also find that research productivity of graduates drops off very quickly with class rank at all departments. For example, even at Harvard, the median graduate has only 0.04 AER paper at year six, an untenurable record at almost any department. These results provide guidance on how much weight to give to place of graduation relative to class standing when hiring new assistant professors. They also suggest that even the top departments are not doing a very good job of training students to be successful research economists for any not in the top of their class.

Suggested Citation

  • John P. Conley & Ali Sina Onder, 2013. "An Empirical Guide to Hiring Assistant Professors in Economics," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 13-00009, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:vuecon-sub-13-00009

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John P. Conley & Mario J. Crucini & Robert A. Driskill & Ali Sina Önder, 2013. "The Effects Of Publication Lags On Life-Cycle Research Productivity In Economics," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(2), pages 1251-1276, April.
    2. Paul Oyer, 2006. "Initial Labor Market Conditions and Long-Term Outcomes for Economists," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 143-160, Summer.
    3. Tom Coupé, 2003. "Revealed Performances: Worldwide Rankings of Economists and Economics Departments, 1990-2000," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(6), pages 1309-1345, December.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. 'Top Economics Graduate Programs are Not as Good as You Think'
      by ? in Economist's View on 2013-08-16 13:15:00
    2. Are the ‘Top Schools’ Really that Good?
      by ? in Economic Incubator on 2013-08-16 21:35:00
    3. You can call me Al
      by (Angus) in Kids Prefer Cheese on 2013-06-21 23:23:00
    4. Top Economics graduate programs are not as good as you think
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2013-08-15 20:03:00
    5. 'Top Economics Graduate Programs are Not as Good as You Think'
      by Mark Thoma in Economist's View on 2013-08-16 05:15:00
    6. Are the ‘Top Schools’ Really that Good?
      by Brandon Dupont in Economic Incubator on 2013-08-16 20:35:20
    7. Krugman to Farmer: "Show Me Your Trailer, or I Won't Watch Your Movie"
      by Stephen Williamson in Stephen Williamson: New Monetarist Economics on 2013-08-19 02:51:00
    8. School and Student Rank for Economics Ph.D.s
      by Dave in voluntaryXchange on 2013-09-01 21:30:42
    9. David and Goliath in PhD programs
      by Salil Mehta in Statistical Ideas on 2014-01-04 08:40:00

    More about this item


    Research Productivity; Academic Labor Markets; Hiring; Publication; Economics Departments; Graduate Training;

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics
    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General

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