Stephen Wu

An article titled “Sharing common roots: Student-graduate committee matching and job market outcomes,” co-authored by Stephen Wu, the Irma M. and Robert D. Morris Professor of Economics, and Qi Ge ’06, appears in the October issue of Southern Economic Journal. Ge is currently an assistant professor of economics at Vassar College.

Wu and Ge, along with Chenyu Zhou of Duke University, looked at data on more than 1,600 job market candidates from top-ranked U.S. economics doctorate programs to determine the impact of one potential student-graduate committee matching influence — country of origin and native language — on student placement outcomes in the economics Ph.D. job market.

“In spite of the importance played by graduate advisors and committee members,” they said, “the matching between faculty mentors and students has not been extensively studied in prior research.” They noted that previous studies have focused on the impact of nationality, age, gender, and other demographic information, as well as graduate teaching experience or already having work published on success in the job market.

Among their findings was that having a dissertation committee member country or language match resulted in little impact to job market outcomes for U.S. students and other English-speaking students. Their research also showed that foreign students benefited, both in the likelihood of getting a tenure track position and in job placement outcome in general, by having a country of origin match with a committee member, and that the most benefit was to Chinese-speaking students with committee member language matches.

The researchers said that “students who have a committee member from the same country or one that shares the same native language may develop a better relationship due to lower communication costs and a shared cultural background.” They said that research focusing on “the nature of these mentoring relationships would shed additional light on the keys to succeeding in graduate economics programs.”  

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