, Volume 84, Issue 3, pp 621–637 | Cite as

Comparing the early research performance of PhD graduates in labor economics in Europe and the USA

  • Ana Rute Cardoso
  • Paulo Guimarães
  • Klaus F. Zimmermann


This paper analyzes the early research performance of PhD graduates in labor economics, addressing the following questions: Are there major productivity differences between graduates from American and European institutions? If so, how relevant is the quality of the training received (i.e. ranking of institution and supervisor) and the research environment in the subsequent job placement institution? The population under study consists of labor economics PhD graduates who received their degree in the years 2000–2005 in Europe or the USA. Research productivity is evaluated alternatively as the number of publications or the quality-adjusted number of publications of an individual. When restricting the analysis to the number of publications, results suggest a higher productivity by graduates from European universities than from USA universities, but this difference vanishes when accounting for the quality of the publication. The results also indicate that graduates placed at American institutions, in particular top ones, are likely to publish more quality-adjusted articles than their European counterparts. This may be because, when hired, they already have several good acceptances or because of more focused research efforts and clearer career incentives.


Research productivity Graduate programs Publication analysis 



We thank Daniela Goed for valuable support throughout the data collection stages of this project. We are grateful to Dan Hamermesh and the participants in the “IZA Workshop on Research in Economics: Rewards, Evaluation and Funding” and the “IZA Anniversary Conference: Frontiers in Labor Economics” for very helpful comments, to the PhD graduates who replied to our inquiry to complete missing demographic information, and to the Barcelona GSE Research Network and the Government of Catalonia for financial support.


  1. Amir, R., & Knauff, M. (2008). Ranking economics departments worldwide on the basis of PhD placement. Review of Economics and Statistics, 90(1), 185–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Athey, S., Katz, L. F., Krueger, A. B., Levitt, S., & Poterba, J. (2007). What does performance in graduate school predict? Graduate economics education and student outcomes. American Economic Review, 97(2), 512–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Borghans, L., & Coervers, F. (2008) Mobility and the changing structure of research and higher education in Europe. In NBER conference “American universities in a global market”, October 2–4, Woodstock, Vermont, USA.Google Scholar
  4. Coupé, T. (2003). Revealed performances: Worldwide rankings of economists and economics departments, 1990–2000. Journal of the European Economic Association, 1(6), 1309–1345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Drèze, J. H., & Estevan, F. (2007). Research and higher education in economics: Can we deliver the Lisbon objectives? Journal of the European Economic Association, 5(2–3), 271–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Frey, B., & Eichenberger, R. (1993). American and European economics and economists. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 7(4), 185–193.Google Scholar
  7. Grove, W. A., & Wu, S. (2007). The search for economics talent: Doctoral completion and research productivity. American Economic Review, 97(2), 506–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hamermesh, D. H. (2002). Presidential address to the society of labor economists, Austin, Texas, April 20, 2001. Journal of Labor Economics, 20(4), 709–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hilmer, C., & Hilmer, M. (2007). Women helping women, men helping women? Same-gender mentoring, initial job placements, and early career publishing success for economics PhDs. American Economic Review, 97(2), 422–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kalaitzidakis, P., Mamuneas, T. P., & Stengos, T. (2003). Rankings of academic journals and institutions in economics. Journal of the European Economic Association, 1(6), 1346–1366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ketzler, R., & Zimermann, K. F. (2009). Publications: German economic research institutes on track. Scientometrics, 80, 231–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kirman, A., & Dahl, M. (1994). Economic research in Europe. European Economic Review, 38, 505–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kocher, M. G., Luptacik, M., & Sutter, M. (2006). Measuring productivity of research in economics: A cross-country study using DEA. Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, 40, 314–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Krueger, A. B., & Wu, S. (2000). Forecasting job placements of economics graduate students. Journal of Economic Education, 31(1), 81–94.Google Scholar
  15. Long, R., Crawford, A., White, M., & Davis, K. (2009). Determinants of faculty research productivity in information systems: An empirical analysis of the impact of academic origin and academic affiliation. Scientometrics, 78, 231–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Neary, P. J., Mirrlees, J. A., & Tirole, J. (2003). Evaluating economics research in Europe: An introduction. Journal of the European Economic Association, 1(6), 1239–1249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Oswald, A. J. (2008). Can we test for bias in scientific peer-review? IZA discussion paper 3665, Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn.Google Scholar
  18. Oswald, A. J. (forthcoming). A suggested method for the measurement of world-leading research (illustrated with data on economics). Scientometrics. doi: 10.1007/s11192-009-0087-x.
  19. Portes, R. (1987). Economics in Europe. European Economic Review, 31, 1329–1340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ruane, F. P., & Tol, R. S. J. (2009). A Hirsch measure for the quality of research supervision, and an illustration to trade economists. Scientometrics, 80, 613–624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Schmoch, U., & Schubert, T. (2009). Sustainability of incentives for excellent research—the German case. Scientometrics, 81(1), 195–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Smeets, V., Warzynski, F., & Coupé, T. (2006). Does the academic labor market initially allocate new graduates efficiently? Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(3), 161–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization]. (2008). Retrieved August 17, 2008, from®=1.

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana Rute Cardoso
    • 1
    • 3
  • Paulo Guimarães
    • 2
    • 3
  • Klaus F. Zimmermann
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.IAE Barcelona (CSIC), Institute for Economic AnalysisSpanish National Research CouncilBellaterra, BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Darla Moore School of BusinessUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.IZABonnGermany
  4. 4.Bonn UniversityBonnGermany
  5. 5.DIW BerlinBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations