Drawing on data from two successive cohorts of PhD graduates, this paper analyses differences in overall job satisfaction and specific job domain satisfaction among PhDs employed in different sectors four years after completing their doctorate degrees. Covariate-adjusted job satisfaction differentials suggest that, compared to faculty members, PhD holders employed outside traditional academic and research jobs are more satisfied with the pecuniary facets of their work (principally, because of higher earnings), but significantly less satisfied with the content of their job and with how well the job matches their skills (and, in the case of public sector workers, with their prospects of promotion). The evidence regarding the overall job satisfaction of the PhD holders indicates that working in the public or private sectors is associated with less work well-being, which cannot be fully compensated by the better pecuniary facets of the job. It also appears that being employed in academia or in research centres provides almost the same perceived degree of satisfaction with the job and with its four specific domains. We also take into account the endogenous sorting of PhD holders into different occupations based on latent personal traits that might be related to job satisfaction. The selectivity-corrected job satisfaction differentials reveal the importance of self-selection based on unobservable traits, and confirm the existence of a certain penalisation for working in occupations other than academia or research, which is especially marked in the case of satisfaction with job content and job-skills match. The paper presents additional interesting evidence about the determinants of occupational choice among PhD holders, highlighting the relevance of certain academic attributes (especially PhD funding and pre-and-post-doc research mobility) in affecting the likelihood of being employed in academia, in a research centre or in other public or private sector job four years after completing their doctorate programme.
Di Paolo, A. (AQR-IREA, XREAP)