Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Boom, Bust, and the Global Race for Scientific Talent

Michael Tietelbaum's new book on STEM labor markets and human capital is reviewed by John McGowan. John and I attended Caltech together many years ago.
Falling Behind? Boom, Bust, and the Global Race for Scientific Talent
by Michael S. Teitelbaum
Princeton University Press
March 30, 2014


Falling Behind? is a recent (March 2014) book by Michael Teitelbaum of the Sloan Foundation, a demographer and long time critic of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) shortage claims. Falling Behind? is an excellent book with a wealth of data and information on the history of booms and busts in science and engineering employment since World War II, STEM shortage claims in general, and lobbying for “high-skilled” immigration “reform”. Although I have been a student of these issues for many years, I encountered many facts and insights that I did not know or had not thought of. Nonetheless the book has a number of weakenesses which readers should keep in mind.

... The evidence assembled in this book leads inescapably to three core findings:

o First, that the alarms about widespread shortages or shortfalls in the number of U.S. scientists and engineers are quite inconsistent with nearly all available evidence;

o Second, that similar claims of the past were politically successful but resulted in a series of booms and busts that did harm to the U.S. science and engineering enterprise and made careers in these fields increasingly unattractive; and

o Third, that the clear signs of malaise in the U.S. science and engineering workforce are structural in origin and cannot be cured simply by providing additional funding. To the contrary, recent efforts of this kind have proved to be destabilizing, and advocates should be careful what they wish for. ...
See also A Tale of Two Geeks.

1 comment:

Cornelius said...

What happens when the government pumps money into an industry without regard to the value of that investment? It creates a bubble.

Investors often screw up even though they have strong incentives not to. Unfortunately, governments don't have very strong incentives to avoid crappy investments and often have strong incentives to create bubbles.

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