A Glut Of PhDs?

Articles like this don’t seem to take into account what the PhD is in. I think we could use more engineers and fewer “studies” majors, who probably comprise most of the PhDs serving coffee or dressing hair (not that we’re suffering a shortage of lawyers, either). But it’s all part of the (finally) popping higher-education bubble. I suspect that it’s really going to burst in the coming fiscal environment, and no doubt with much wailing and keening from the “liberal” education racket.

4 thoughts on “A Glut Of PhDs?”

  1. As a recovering engineer (astro), I recall a few PhD engineers in the aerospace biz I worked in…

    Generally, they were there as a marketing tool (and most of them were, indeed, tools – especially the ones who had been professors). To actually get things done? Keep it way away from the fuds…

  2. Even in engineering and sciences, the Ph.D. is primarily preparing individuals to teach and conduct research at a university or comparable facility (Federal lab, etc.). Useful, but not near-term relevant to industrial problems. (Long-term, this is how you get entirely new industries… like graphene processors.)

    For near-term results, we could use a bunch more MASTER’S degrees in EE, ME, AE, physics, chemistry, etc. And, if foreign nationals earn them, we should staple green cards to their diplomas.

  3. Maybe this should be considered more as a lack of demand rather than an over supply problem (well in the STEM fields at least).

    If an unskilled job can be done in China for one fifth the going rate in the US then that, for the most part, is how much a person in the US should be getting for doing the same job. Equal pay for equal work, the alternative is disastrous protectionism that brings everyone else in the US down, a US person does not deserve to get paid five times as much to do the same job, that is economic suicide (which the US seems to currently be committing). If the US wants to have a higher standard of living than China, then it is going to have to be based on more highly skilled higher paying jobs, hence it is perhaps sensible to push harder on the demand side of the higher education bubble and worry less about the supply side, though clearer market signals as to what pays are definitely needed.

    What clever economic model is the US going to demonstrate that warrants an average income many times higher than China?

    Also, I saw a recent article where 17% of people now living in the UK are expected to live to 100. People now live a lot longer and spending more time getting productively educated is perhaps warranted.

  4. What clever economic model is the US going to demonstrate that warrants an average income many times higher than China?

    Well if we had any God-damned brains, we’d be taking our natural and spectacular advantages in biology and medicine and leverage them to the hilt. When’s the last time you ever heard of a serious (and expensive) medical advance coming out of China? Or even Europe or Japan? The US in medicine is now placed like it was in microelectronics in 1970.

    And what better thing to export than mechanisms and services that extend health and life? Something for which the demand will always be high, and the price generous.

    But noooooo. We’d rather get frantic over the fact that 18% and rising of our GDP is in health-related fields — like anybody ever fretted over how much of our GDP is devoted to cell phone service and PC purchase! — and slay the golden goose to make sure our Lipitor costs 10% less, and our raises can go to buying consumer goods from Korea instead of extending our lives and healing our bodies better and faster than anyone else on the planet can imagine. Brilliant!

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