The PhD Glut Makes the Big Time

Well, I guess all of that complaining about the non-existent STEM crisis finally got some attention by the Very Serious People, in this case The Atlantic. It’s worth a read, although there are lots of issues about quality of life, misallocation of human resources, and the effect it has on both the ‘winners’ and the quality of research (i.e., the funding chase) that aren’t discussed.

The major issue I have with the article though is that it assumes that, because PhDs have had low unemployment until now, this will continue into the future. I’m not sure that’s the case (focus on the orange line, which is the total number of biomedical PhD jobs according to the BLS):

(data here)

Someone describe for me the mechanism that enables another doubling of positions over an eight year span, because I’m not seeing that. Unfortunately, without systemic changes in how staff science, that doubling is what it would take for things to sustain the current situation (and not let it get any worse).

Anyway, it’s a good excuse to provide links to my posts on the subject:

Regarding the Ph.D. Glut, Nature’s Heart Is in the Right Place, But They’re Not Following the Money
Yes, We Have a PhD Glut…
How We Fund Scientific Research Causes the Scientist Glut
Obama Still Buys Into the STEM Shortage
It Sure Looks Like There’s a PhD Glut, Especially If You’re a Young PhD
The STEM PhD Glut Makes the Mainstream Media
The PhD Glut in Two Figures
The PhD Glut Isn’t Just Biomedical: Welcome to the Sh-tstorm, Chemists
The Overproduction of PhDs and the NIH’s Failure of Governance
The Instability of Science Funding and the Failure of NIH Leadership
I’m Not Suprised That NIH Officials Are Surprised That Most PhDs Don’t End Up in Academia
The Economics PhD Job Market As a Reality-Distortion Field: STEM PhDs, We Made a Bad Career Move
NIH Inches Towards a Research Center Model
The Research Center Model Would Does “Give Post-Docs a Career”
The Scientist Shortage: It’s a Demand-Side, Not Supply-Side Problem
Training PhDs to Be Something Other Than Academics: Thoughts on Doctoral Training
PhDs, Supply, and Demand
The Old Days Were Better–At Least When It Came to NIH & Funding
NIH, Complaining, and the Iron Law of Institutions
Maybe NIH Thinks Small Laboratories Aren’t Translating Enough Research?
It Sure Looks Like There’s a PhD Glut, Especially If You’re a Young PhD

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6 Responses to The PhD Glut Makes the Big Time

  1. joemac53 says:

    I’m the old guy who taught math and physics for 35 years. I often cite you as a source of support for my contention that there is a glut of academics. I am rowing against a stream of STEM hysteria. I used to tell the parents at open house that one of the reasons I enjoyed teaching calculus because I would have more people to talk to about it. I tried to convince them that I didn’t have enough money to employ all those smart kids I was turning loose on the world, so they better learn a little math so they could converse with their kids. They thought I was a nut, and of course they were correct.

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