Universities in the United States are producing about 25% more doctorates in science and engineering than the U.S. economy can absorb, according to a new study by the Rand Corporation and Stanford University's Institute for Higher Education Research. The study looked at 13 science and engineering fields, covering 210 doctorate-granting institutions and more than 1,000 educational institutions that employ people with doctorates. The study was done by Stanford Professor William Massy and Charles Goldman of Rand, with graduate students Marc Chun and Beryle Hsiao.
The researchers found that supply and demand do not work in the usual way to regulate the employment market for doctoral candidates. In labor markets, when job opportunities decrease, fewer people usually seek to enter the field. In the case of Ph.D.s, however, the researchers found that neither departments nor prospective doctoral students take close accounting of the doctorate employment gap.