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Falling Behind?
Boom, Bust, and the Global Race for Scientific Talent
Michael S. Teitelbaum

Hardcover | 2014 | $31.95 | £26.95 | ISBN: 9780691154664
280 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 16 line illus. 6 tables.
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Author Michael S. Teitelbaum
Economic Policy Institute

Is the United States falling behind in the global race for scientific and engineering talent? Are U.S. employers facing shortages of the skilled workers that they need to compete in a globalized world? Such claims from some employers and educators have been widely embraced by mainstream media and political leaders, and have figured prominently in recent policy debates about education, federal expenditures, tax policy, and immigration. Falling Behind? offers careful examinations of the existing evidence and of its use by those involved in these debates.

These concerns are by no means a recent phenomenon. Examining historical precedent, Michael Teitelbaum highlights five episodes of alarm about "falling behind" that go back nearly seventy years to the end of World War II. In each of these episodes the political system responded by rapidly expanding the supply of scientists and engineers, but only a few years later political enthusiasm or economic demand waned. Booms turned to busts, leaving many of those who had been encouraged to pursue science and engineering careers facing disheartening career prospects. Their experiences deterred younger and equally talented students from following in their footsteps—thereby sowing the seeds of the next cycle of alarm, boom, and bust.

Falling Behind? examines these repeated cycles up to the present, shedding new light on the adequacy of the science and engineering workforce for the current and future needs of the United States.


"Falling Behind? makes a convincing case."--Andrew Hacker, New York Review of Books

"[Teitelbaum's] discussion usefully pulls together previous work by him and others that shows that the existing funding model and practices of universities have uncoupled the supply of new scientists from the need for new scientists, particularly in the life sciences. . . . Falling Behind? also illuminates a bigger picture: Scientists must recognize that the solution to low grant acceptance rates and poor job prospects for new scientists is not increased public funding for research."--Adam B. Jaffe, Science

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1
Chapter 1 Recent Alarms 7
Chapter 2 No Shortage of Shortages 25
Chapter 3 Beliefs, Interests, Effects 70
Chapter 4 The Influence of Employer and Other Interest Groups 87
Chapter 5 What Is the Market Really Like? Supply, Demand, Shortage, Surplus--and Disequilibria 118
Chapter 6 The Distinctive U.S. Academic Production Process 155
Chapter 7 International Comparisons: Glass Half-Full, Glass Half-Empty? 172
Chapter 8 Making Things Work Better 189
Appendix A Controversy about the Meaning of Sputnik 217
Appendix B Evolution of the National Institutes of Health 219
Appendix C "A Nation at Risk" and the Sandia Critique 221
Notes 225
Index 255

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