THE RESERVE ARMY OF THE UNEMPLOYED? Invisible Adjunct discovers Robert E. Wright's Market Solution to the Oversupply of Historians, offers comments, also raises objections to Laura Vanderkam's assertion that the current academic market "wastes Ph.D. brainpower."
Nothing quite like something about misallocation of resources to get the economists interested, as King at SCSU and Brad at Berkeley demonstrate.
What, though, to do with the self-selection puzzle present in the graduate programs? Figure that, yes, everybody who is admitted is an academic achiever, and yes, each one of them is capable of doing quality scholarship (although Northwestern's placement director Ian Domowitz -- where is he now? -- circulated a memorandum of hints for the job market that warned the quality of professors was less skewed than Ph.D. students would believe, and the quality of students was more skewed) but is the research calling really the type of market in which a tournament is most efficient at identifying talent (and Cornell's Robert Frank has written some gloomy stuff about that kind of market) or is the job of teaching and grading really so burdensome that it has to be farmed out as sweated labor? Or has the enterprise of higher education mutated into a credentialling mill in which a University of Phoenix that produces no original thought sets the pace for the rest?