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Kieran Healy
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Whoops, I just noticed the link I posted above might have been inaccessible to some people. Here it is again: It should work now.
You have to be careful about which population you condition on, but in general I'd expect where you got your PhD to matter more to long-term mobility than who your first employer is. High-prestige schools produce most of the PhDs in the field, and departments tend to hire from schools they perceive as peers or of higher prestige. This makes for a cascade of people down the status order. Upward mobility out of a first job should be more common for those with PhDs from higher-prestige departments, though of course not all of them will move (or could move: there isn't room). You can get a rough sense of this from the PGR respondents. See, for example. As we'd expect, most respondents teach at a lower-prestige school than the one they received their PhD from. (Notice there are fewer points below the 45 degree line than above it.) This is a static snapshot of a narrow population, and the reality is a much more complex and dynamic business. But you get the general idea. Of course, the U.S. college & university system has many different niches, so mobility is about more than moving up or down a one-dimensional status order.
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Dec 15, 2010