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Robert M. Feinberg
''Is an academic career a luxury good? Student debt and the under-representation of minorities''
( 2020, Vol. 40 No.4 )
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 may be 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, and focusing on American citizens (for whom debt financing of higher education is more readily available), we find that student debt, especially graduate student debt, is associated with a somewhat lessened likelihood of pursuing the traditional -- 4-year college or university (including post-docs) -- path of academia, perhaps with long-term impacts for diversity of the profession. Examining the subsample of STEM PhDs, the same patterns emerge, with larger effects.
Keywords: Student debt, academic career, diversity, doctorates
JEL: I2 - Education: General
J2 - Demand and Supply of Labor: General
Manuscript Received : Apr 25 2020 Manuscript Accepted : Nov 14 2020

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