The labor-market placement of trained PhDs outside academia

How many trained PhDs wind up outside the academia? Where do they go?  What implications does this ‘export’ have for the (knowledge) economy?


The eight RISIS Research Seminar will take place on 14th April from 12.30 to 2 pm (CET)  and will focus on The labor-market placement of trained PhDs outside academia: measurement and analysis with a presentation of Eric J. Iversen, Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education, Oslo, Norway.


There is a long tradition of literature linking the ‘production of PhDs’ to the ‘deployment’ of trained PhDs in the labor-market. Much of this literature has focused on the ‘reproduction rate’ of academic positions, indicating a swing from a ‘scarcity’ of trained PhDs in the 1950s to a notable ‘surplus’ from about the 1990s. A recent focus has turned to the question of what happens to the increasing number of trained PhDs who do not move into academic careers or careers in aligned ‘research sectors’ (government labs, hospitals).


Focusing on Norway, the seminar presents fresh answers to these perennial questions. The seminar first introduces key analytical issues while briefly taking stock of the strengths/weaknesses of empirical lenses that have been used/are being used to address these questions. Its focus, however, is on the analytical possibilities that result from improving the lenses that are now under development. The study focuses here on the potential strengths that the evolving international CDH approach (“Career of Doctorate Holders (CDH)” potentially holds in cases where it is built on (education and labor-market) register microdata.


The researchers report on work-in-progress (Iversen Eric, Zach Andreadakis, & Marco Capasso – 2021 – Labor-market placement of doctorate degree holders in Norway) that explores how this approach could be leveraged with other data to better understand the changing deployment of trained PhDs in the labor-market across time. The experimental exercise links education and labor-market microdata (Source Statistics Norway).  Three steps are taken to align the resulting (panel) dataset, which is observed in the labor-market, with the concurrent PhD production from Norwegian HEIs. Focusing on the ‘deployment’ of PhDs in the Norwegian economy for 2009-2016, the researchers show that the approach allows the new scope to analyze not only the initial ‘placement’ of  ‘newly minted PhDs’ but also of their subsequent careers in the wider labor market.