Research on chemists

The underlying data was collected as part of a series of academic research projects studying scientific collaborations or international labor mobility. Here is more details on these projects.

Gaule, P. & Piacentini, M. (2017) “An Advisor Like Me? Advisor Gender and Post-Graduate Careers in Science” IZP 10828 (pdf)

We investigate whether having an advisor of the same gender is correlated with the productivity of PhD science students and their propensity to stay in academic science. Our analysis is based on an original dataset covering nearly 20,000 PhD graduates and their advisors from U.S. chemistry departments. We find that students with an advisor of the same gender tend to be more productive during the PhD and more likely to become professors themselves. We suggest that the under-representation of women in science and engineering faculty positions may perpetuate itself through the lower availability of same gender advisors for female students.

Gaule, P. & Piacentini, M. (2013) “Chinese Graduate Students and U.S. Scientific Productivity.” Review of Economics and Statistics (link)

The migration of young Chinese scientists to undertake graduate studies in U.S. universities is arguably one of the most important recent episodes of skilled migration. Using a new data set covering around 16,000 Ph.D. graduates in 161 U.S. chemistry departments, we show that Chinese students have a scientific output during their thesis that is significantly higher than other students. In fact, conditional on acceptance into the same programs, Chinese students perform about as well as the awardees of the NSF doctoral fellowship program. These results shed new light on the benefits of student migration on scientific productivity of destination countries.

Gaule, P. (2014) “Who comes back and when? Return migration decisions of academic scientists.” Economics Letters (link)

The net welfare benefit of the ‘brain drain’ of skilled workers depends on their propensity to return to their home countries. Yet, relatively little is known empirically about the return migration decisions of skilled workers. Here, I study a sample of 1460 foreign faculty in research-intensive US universities, using publicly available academic records to reconstruct career histories and create a longitudinal panel. Return occurs early in the career and is responsive to changes in income per capita in the source country. The evidence on the effect of ability on the decision to return is mixed.

Catalini C., Fons-Rosen C. & Gaule, P. “Did Cheaper Flights Change the Direction of Science?” IZA Discussion Paper 9897 (pdf)

We test how a reduction in travel cost affects the rate and direction of scientific research. Using a fine-grained, scientist-level dataset within chemistry (1991-2012), we find that after Southwest Airlines enters a new route, scientific collaboration increases by 50%, an effect that is magnified when weighting output by quality. The benefits from the lower fares, however, are not uniform across scientist types: younger scientists and scientists that are more productive than their local peers respond the most. Thus, cheaper flights, by reducing frictions otherwise induced by geography and allowing for additional face-to-face interactions, seem to enable better matches over distance.