Bryan Caplan  

My Advice to Tyler on the Econ Ph.D.: Lighten Up

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Tyler is once again handing out career advice to potential Ph.D. students in economics. I stand by my previous claim (here and here) that he makes some good points, but is far too negative.

Where does Tyler go wrong? His standard of "success" is far too high. He barely considers himself successful. But I say there's no shame in doing 10% as well as he's done. Compared to your next best option, that could easily be a very sweet life. If you want to live the life of the mind, econ's the place to do it. As I said a little while back:

Overall, the econ Ph.D. is such a good deal that I would seriously advise people who want to do research in political science, psychology, or even history to just get an econ Ph.D. and become a professor of economics. Even if you have to research topics you don't care about until you get tenure (and you probably won't have to), you could easily earn tenure in econ before you would have defended your dissertation in another field.

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COMMENTS (5 to date)
caveatBettor writes:

I'm curious to the econ Ph.D.s of a keynesian persuasion--do they make supply side exceptions when considering the supply of econ Ph.D.s?

Jake writes:

Thanks for the reassurance. It is needed, more often than not.

dearieme writes:

"you could easily earn tenure in econ before you would have defended your dissertation in another field": what, these are cheapo doctorates? You guys have inflated your currency? Say it ain't so!

Half Sigma writes:

Tyler's advice sounds good to me, especially the part about only getting a PhD at one of the top six schools. You have close to zero chance of getting a professor job with a degree from a third tier state school.

liberty writes:

My question Bryan:

Why is your analysis and the comments here (eg in the 2nd link you posted) so incredibly different than that of Tyler and the comments posted there?

Is he just trying to discourage those of us starting out? Why does he think there are no jobs for anyone who doesn't make it into a top tier school?

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