Evaluating Higher Education's Two-Body Problem
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Academic couples make up a significant portion of the academic labor market. Unlike other dual-career households, academic couples must not only find employment in the same region, but often in the same institution. Previous work has not considered how outcomes may be different when dual career households work for the same employer. In the first chapter, we develop a theoretical model of the academic labor market in which couples wish to remain together but may be heterogeneous in their level of productivity. We consider two evaluation polices for hiring academic couples, an independent and an average policy. The predictions of the model are sensitive to the choice of evaluation policy. We test for differences in productivity using annual publications as a proxy for productivity. We find that couples have more publications per year than their peers.In the second chapter I set up a test of the theory that high mobility costs for academics result in negative returns to seniority. Academic couples are more limited in their job prospects such that their expected market wage, if they were to move, is lower than their colleagues' which results in a higher probability of remaining at the current institution. A greater probability of remaining means the university can offer a lower wage to couples each year than they could for other faculty and maintain the same probability that the couple will accept. I first estimate the relative probability of leaving the university and find that couples are much less likely to leave than their colleagues. I then estimate a wage equation similar to previous literature and find evidence that academic couples are penalized more for each additional year of seniority relative to other academics but the result is not robust across multiple specifications. In the third chapter I compare outcomes of couples hired into the same department with couples hired into different departments. I suspect outcomes may be different when multiple department heads are involved in hiring and salary decisions rather than a single department head. I find differences in annual publications, salary and employment duration. I then discuss policy implications.