Economics job market bleg

Most economics PhD graduates obtain academic employment through the centralised “economics job market”. Advertisements are generally shown on the American Economic Association’s Job Openings for Economists website, applications made through and interviews undertaken at the American Economic Association’s annual meeting in January. Further interviews and job offers follow, and by March most positions are filled. For a good layperson’s description of the process, Noah Smith’s post on his experience is worth a glance.

As I will be submitting my thesis early next year, I am going to be dipping my toe into the academic job market waters. When economists apply through the economics job market, one part of their application is the “job market paper”. I’ll (likely) be using my paper Population, Technological Progress and the Evolution of Innovative Potential for that purpose, although I have a couple of other papers that could suit. You can also find my latest CV here.

The typical approach involves applicants sending out over 100 applications. I’ll be sending out far fewer. This is partly because I’m from a lesser-known Australian university and can’t rely on institutional reputation to get me through the door. But more importantly, I’m interested in finding somewhere that is a good match for my interests.

So, I thought I’d ask if anyone knows of any corners of the academic world that could be interested in me and me interested in them. I’ve got a reasonable idea of places and people who work at the boundary of economics and evolutionary biology, but I constantly find new pockets of activity in surprising places. That said, I’m not tied to going somewhere that already works in this area. A supportive environment and colleagues who are interested in the world is reasonable starting point. If you are familiar with this blog, you’d have a good idea of my interests. So if you know of somewhere that I should apply to, please drop me a line.

What else am I looking for?

I have a reasonably strong home (Australia or New Zealand) bias. This is for a mix of personal and lifestyle reasons, and the academic life in Australia and New Zealand can be good. As a result, any European or North American option would have to trump my home options on other dimensions. One other (nice) aspect of my search is that I have the safety net of my existing consulting work. That said, I am keen to make the academic option work.

I have been asked a few times whether I would consider a post-doc in an evolutionary biology group or something similar. The answer to that is yes, but biology post-docs seem to be much tougher gigs than the typical economics assistant professor role (poorer pay, fewer opportunities after the post-doc etc.). But more importantly, I am an economist and I want to influence economic ideas. That is best done from the inside. An evolutionary biology opportunity would need some other attractive features to outweigh those potential costs.

If this exploration of the economics job market turns up any interesting results, I’ll post on the experience.


  1. Best of luck!

    I’m only a recent reader of your blog, do you have a post on how you got into consulting during your PhD and what you liked/disliked about it? I would be interested in reading about that.

    1. Thanks.

      I haven’t written a post about my consulting work before. I’ll have a think about whether I have anything interesting to say (and what I can say – confidentiality kills off some of the more interesting angles). If I do, I’ll put up a post in the next couple of weeks.

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