Jake Vigdor Profile picture
Professor of Public Policy and Governance, and Faculty Representative to the Washington State Legislature, University of Washington
Mar 15, 2021 11 tweets 5 min read
Do you have tenure? Hope to get it someday? Pick your nose up from the grindstone for a moment, read this article, and then come back to this thread for some tips on how to monitor the financial health of your employer.

chronicle.com/article/tenure… Tenure is designed to insulate scholars from risk. The risk of taking on a bold research project that just doesn't work out. The risk of saying something that is politically unpopular but true.

There's one type of risk it can't insulate you from: institutional financial risk.
Mar 3, 2021 12 tweets 4 min read
Here's some data on 2 PhD programs @DukeU.

Roughly equal in size.

@usnews rankings and yield rates (% of admitted students who accept the offer) suggest the bio program is more prestigious.

The econ program receives nearly 10x more applications.

The Econ Bottleneck: a 🧵 Image The number of doctoral degrees awarded in the US has expanded significantly over the past 3 decades. Computer science degrees have tripled. Biology and math/stats degrees more than doubled.

Econ has had one of the most anemic growth rates: 39%. Less than soc, poli sci, history! Image
Feb 10, 2021 18 tweets 6 min read
For the small number of people who are not totally sick of #minimumwage threads, let me walk you through some of the @UW team's findings for #Seattle now that they've cleared peer review (conditionally accepted, AEJ:EP).

A lot of them are packed into this one picture. This isn't the analysis that used Synthetic Seattle and counted up the number of jobs paying under some threshold, except it couldn't count jobs at multi-location firms.

This is a longitudinal analysis of individual workers working for low pay in Washington as of early 2015.
Jan 18, 2021 12 tweets 3 min read
Hello everyone arguing about the #minimumwage! Someday I'll post a thread about the evidence our @UW team compiled in Seattle.

Today let's talk about hours.

Raise the wage on most low-paying jobs & workers still don't have enough to live on. Because they can't get enough hours. The graph above is based on data from WA: one of only 4 states that collects systematic data on hours worked. It shows information for anyone earning under $11/hr in 2014-15, when the minimum wage was no more than $9.47.

The data have some important limitations:
Jul 23, 2020 11 tweets 4 min read
Q: Why is rent so high? (median US renter paid 14% of income for rent in 1960, 24% by 2017.)

That’s the topic of my new paper with @evansuw alum Alanna Williams, presented this morning @nberpubs #NBERSI2020.

Want the answer (or at least a partial one)? Follow along! (1/11) Image First some clues to the mystery: this is more a story of rents rising fast, rather than incomes falling. Renter incomes track inflation well, but sometime around 1970 rents started accelerating ahead of inflation. Had rents just tracked inflation they’d be about 50% lower today. Image
Jan 9, 2020 9 tweets 5 min read
Here, #econtwitter, is a photo (replete with San Diego Marriott poolside lounge chair backdrop) of the AEA budget for FY 2020. I picked it up at the sparsely attended business meeting at #ASSA2020.

Although printed in black, there's some serious red ink. Let's explore. The AEA operating budget was in the black five years ago. This year, they expect to spend $1.23 for every $1 in operating revenue. What gives?

Revenues (+7% in nominal terms 2015-2020) are not keeping up with expenses (+35.5%).
Sep 5, 2019 7 tweets 4 min read
In light of the recent suicides of Alan Krueger and Martin Weitzman, economists & other professionals at risk of aging might find insight in this recent letter penned by Princeton professor emeritus Avinash Dixit.

Thread follows. Dixit's letter was written in response to @ArthurBrooks' recent @TheAtlantic essay, which is itself a must read for any professional at risk of aging:
theatlantic.com/magazine/archi…
Aug 7, 2019 18 tweets 17 min read
ICYMI @NickKristof found "reason for hope" in a groundbreaking experimental study by @OppInsights. Go read if you haven't, then come back here for a contrarian thread: in broader context, this is a desert island of hope in a rising sea of despair.
nytimes.com/2019/08/03/opi… @NickKristof @OppInsights The @OppInsights study showed that offering assistance to Seattle-area housing voucher recipients made them about 40 percentage points more likely to use their vouchers to rent an apartment in "high opportunity" neighborhoods.

Link to the study here:
opportunityinsights.org/wp-content/upl…
Jun 20, 2019 10 tweets 2 min read
Six weeks ago, I invited the 9 candidates for AEA leadership positions to offer statements on pressing issues in the economics profession, including diversity/inclusion & the publication process.

Response rate, as of today: zero.

There is, of course, an economic explanation... Economics teaches us that producers profit from imposing scarcity of their product, restricting output and imposing barriers to entry. They gain, would-be competitors and consumers lose.

This is what economists preach. It is also what they practice.
May 24, 2019 12 tweets 4 min read
My thoughts on academic publishing are heavily influenced by the four years I spent co-editing the Berkeley Electronic Journal in Economic Analysis & Policy (BEJEAP).

Theoretically it still exists today, but it bears little resemblance to what it once was. A brief tale. One of several journals established as a brainchild of @ProfAaronEdlin about 20 years ago, I signed on in 2008 to work alongside some great colleagues including @orianabandiera, @deanyang, @ProfFionasm, @stevepuller, Gary Solon, Don Fullerton, Eric Zitzewitz, Nolan Miller...
May 9, 2019 8 tweets 3 min read
A few (more) thoughts on the evolution of scholarly publishing, abetted by the metrics computed by the @eigenfactor project.

Authors supply content, journals demand it. Journals publish when quality exceeds a certain threshold.

What happens when supply increases? Journals can respond by holding the threshold constant and publishing more, or raising the bar for publication. Or somewhere on the continuum between the two.

In economics over the past half-century, the dominant choice has been to raise the bar. Why?

Two words: impact factor.
May 9, 2019 11 tweets 4 min read
Dear candidates for AEA elected office (@kearney_melissa, @drlisadcook, @OS_Mitchell, @MattGentzkow et al):

I'd like to instigate a series of candidate forums so that you might inform #econtwitter where you stand on important issues.

I will reach out to those not on @twitter. While welcoming suggestions for important topics, and recognizing that inclusivity, gender, and race belong among them. I'd like to start with the state of publishing in the discipline.

Some basic stylized facts to start the discussion:
May 3, 2019 9 tweets 2 min read
Rank-and-file economists don't know it yet, but the next president-elect of the American Economic Association has been selected.

Or at least the only individual whose name will be printed on the ballot has been selected.

Here's the story, #econtwitter... AEA by-laws charge a nominating committee with presenting 2+ candidates for president-elect to the Executive Committee no later than April 30th. The 2 committees then hold what resembles a papal conclave, trading the Sistine Chapel for a meeting room at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare.
Dec 21, 2018 17 tweets 7 min read
"Brilliant answers to irrelevant questions: a game for anti-social social scientists"

Is that what economists are playing now?

An epistemological concern with roots as old as the discipline itself.

And our thread for today.

We'll start off with enough links to keep you busy all weekend:
@christopherruhm's recent paper nber.org/papers/w25320
@oren_cass on the politicization of research nationalaffairs.com/publications/d…
A critique in a journal lots of non-economists read: nature.com/articles/d4158…
Dec 20, 2018 15 tweets 3 min read
If you started a Ph.D. program in economics this fall, your chances of proceeding directly to an academic job (excluding postdocs, but including non-tenure track positions such as lecturers) is approximately...

13%

Is that a market failure? That's our thread topic for today. First, on the numbers. @NSF conducts a survey of earned doctorates each year, with very high response rates. Of 1,237 economics doctorate recipients in the US, 274 (22%) reported a first job at a US academic institution.

ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf19301/…
Dec 19, 2018 10 tweets 2 min read
Economics has become the laughingstock of academic publication. Common question asked by scholars in almost any other field: "It takes you *how long* to get a paper published?"

How do we fix it?

Some suggestions... Initial review: ratchet up expectations for peer reviewers. It does not take four weeks to read a manuscript and write a report. Conditional on no desk rejection, economics journals take weeks longer to reach a first decision.