Bünstorf, G., König, J., Otto, A.
In many countries around the world, the number of new doctorate recipients graduating from universities has grown sharply in the past few decades, but the implications of this expansion for the employment situation of doctorate recipients remain largely unexplored in longitudinal studies. In Germany, as in various other countries, the expansion of doctoral education coincided with other changes in higher education that may have had a relevant impact on the careers of doctorate recipients. We explore the labour market outcomes of more than 98,000 doctorate recipients who graduated between 1995 and 2013. Focusing on differences among 19 annual graduation cohorts, we find that, beginning in the mid-2000s, newly graduating doctorate recipients had lower rates of full-time employment and were less likely to earn high incomes than graduates of the 1995–2000 period. At the same time, rates of inter-regional mobility have declined, and more new doctorate recipients remain employed in the academic sector. Differences across cohorts are robust to disaggregation along gender and disciplinary lines and persist for at least five years after graduation. We relate these findings to a stronger socialisation of doctoral students towards academic ‘excellence’, new employment options in university administration and management as well as increasing fixed-term employment in research projects. Our findings indicate that the expansion of doctoral education, as well as potential reforms in the training of doctoral candidates, must be analysed in the context of the respective university system.