Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cobwebs on the law professor market

Law professors were among the first in universities, and Economics emerged in many places from Law Schools. This make the study of laws an old and established profession, but this is not why I am mentioning cobwebs here. I am rather referring to the cobweb model, where price and quantity bounce around along the path of a spiral to reach an equilibrium.

According to Christoph Engel and Hanjo Hamann, this is what is happening on the market for Law professors in Germany. Say there are a lot of open positions in the German university system. This pikes the interest of law students, who after their doctorates require to go through a "habilitation" process that takes 6-9 years before they can apply for a professor position. And lo and behold, about eight years later, there is a surplus of candidates, which discourages younger students to choose this career, and we enter the other part of the cycle. Engel and Hamann show that this is not just theory, but applies remarkably well to the data, as it has before to cattle, whose biology leads to a similar market (ROsen, Murphy and Scheinkman 1994).

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