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Chasing the academic dream: Biased beliefs and scientific labor markets

Ina Ganguli, Patrick Gaulé () and Danijela Vuletić Čugalj

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2022, vol. 202, issue C, 17-33

Abstract: We investigate whether biased beliefs play a role in the persistent demand for postdoctoral training in science. We elicit the beliefs and career preferences of doctoral students at 56 U.S. chemistry departments through a survey combined with a field experiment, in which we randomize the provision of information to a subset of respondents on historical academic placements by department. We first show that respondents have excessively optimistic beliefs about their own and their peers’ chances of obtaining a tenure track faculty position. Respondents who received the historical placement information treatment updated their beliefs about their own likelihood of obtaining a faculty position in a follow-up survey one year later, particularly those who had the most biased initial beliefs. However, we do not find an effect on the likelihood of doing a post-doc at four years post-intervention.

Keywords: Information; Biased beliefs; Career preferences; Science; Higher education (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D80 D84 I23 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2022.07.021

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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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