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Is an Academic Career a Luxury Good? Student Debt and the Under-Representation of Minorities

Robert Feinberg ()

No 2019-05, Working Papers from American University, Department of Economics

Abstract: Minority groups are under-represented in university teaching and research positions; they are employed in these positions at lower rates than would be indicated by college enrollments and (to a lesser extent) shares of doctoral degrees. Using data from the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates, from 2001 to 2016, this article examines whether some of this is due an under-representation of scholars with high student debt and fewer parental resources, choosing business or government careers rather than academia. Analyzing a large sample of new PhDs from 2001 to 2016, we find that student debt has limited the decision to enter academia, perhaps with long-term impacts for diversity of the profession. Examining the subsample of STEM PhDs, the same patterns emerge -- with perhaps stronger adverse impacts of debt on Black and Hispanic academic career choice.

Keywords: Student debt; academic career; diversity; doctorates (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A2 I23 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu and nep-sog
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