09_05 - Lost in Translation? The Economics Ph.D. Pipeline...

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Lost in Translation? The Economics Ph.D. Pipeline for U.S. versus Foreign Applicants Andrew Grodner Department of Economics East Carolina University A423 Brewster Building, 10th Street Greenville, NC 27858-4353 grodnera @ecu.edu Wayne A. Grove Department of Economics Le Moyne College 1419 Salt Springs Road Syracuse, NY 13214 Phone: 315.445.4262 Fax: 315.445.4540 grovewa@lemoyne.edu Stephen Wu* Department of Economics Hamilton College Clinton, NY 13323 Phone: 315.859.4645 Fax: 315.859.4477 swu@hamilton.edu *Corresponding author. We thank Elihu Bogan, David Killian, Sergei Piatkovski, and Aliesa Shoults for providing research assistance. Financial support came from a Le Moyne College Research and Development Grant. We thank Don Dutkowsky, John Siegfried, Wendy Stock, Ofer Malamud and seminar participants at Binghamton, Cornell, Syracuse, and the NBER Higher Education meeting for helpful comments and suggestions.
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ABSTRACT Because the success of Ph.D. programs and their graduates is one of the major criteria by which Economics departments are evaluated externally, it is important to study the determinants of success for prospective candidates. To address this issue, we analyze factors affecting attendance, graduation, and job placement of Ph.D. applicants using a unique dataset from a single top five Economics program in 1989. Using the entire sample of applicants, we find that three predictor variables—GRE scores, the quality of the reference writers, and having a foreign undergraduate education—predict attendance, completion, and initial job placement. When we split the samples according to whether the undergraduate education occurred in the U.S. or abroad, the determinants of success at each stage differ entirely by type of applicant, with the exception of the consistent role played by quantitative GRE scores. Our results have important implications for effective applicant selection criteria used by the graduate search committees. 2
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I. Introduction Many organizations in their search for the most qualified talent face the dilemma that the underlying skills and abilities of the candidates are not observable. Economics Ph.D. programs, as a case in point, seek doctoral candidates with quantitative skills and aptitude as well as non- observable characteristics such as diligence, perseverance, and creativity. Whereas GRE scores provide a standardized indicator of the former, the latter must be inferred from letters of reference and information about past educational experiences based either on detailed knowledge of particular schools, programs, curriculum and faculty or due to a trusted network relationship. 1 Since applications come overwhelmingly from abroad, admission committees must either have such detailed knowledge or a trusted network relationship for schools from all parts of the globe. 2
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This note was uploaded on 01/22/2010 for the course ECO 1101 taught by Professor Sparr during the Fall '05 term at St.Francis College.

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09_05 - Lost in Translation? The Economics Ph.D. Pipeline...

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