Does economic recession bolster academic productivity?
- A new study suggests academia benefits from economic recession, because it drives more people to pursue advanced degrees and to look for work as professors or researchers at universities.
- Ph.D. cohorts graduating during recessions showed a 12% increase in published research in the decade following their exit from school; graduates who applied for advanced programs during recessions and stayed in academia post-graduation increased research by 17%.
- The study, which analyzed the performance of economics graduates, projected similar outcomes for candidates entering business and STEM programs.
A higher number of people seeking advanced degrees during lean economic times is not a major revelation, but does offer a unique contrast to the behavior of colleges and universities during recession. While this study suggests colleges and universities are virtually recession proof, other studies show spending remains inconsistent across most states, even in an improving economy.
Campus executives already know that graduate study is the ideal alternative when jobs are scarce, but there is value in analyzing which programs produce more research and earn more public research funding during these lean times. If analytics show state and federal governments become more aggressive in one field when industries are down, campus officials can build greater strategy for how to align academic programs with changing industrial trends and future projections.