In a recession, there’s supposed to be an inverse relationship between the economy’s performance and graduate school enrollments. The theory is simple: In economic downturns, young people go back to school to shield themselves from the unpredictable labor marketplace and prepare for greater career advancement down the road.
There’s just one problem–it doesn’t appear to be happening this time around. My latest Science Progress column explores this mystery, which doesn’t bode well either for those wishing to become students themselves or for the future of our scientific workforce. As I put it:
…today’s economic downturn comes as the United States is scrambling to remake its energy system and deploy the clean technologies necessary avert the worst effects of climate change–a project for which we’ll need plenty of well-educated scientists, engineers, and other technical workers. Whether we’ll have them, though, remains to be seen. Certainly we can’t assume that the recession, like a bolt from the blue, will be the source of their delivery.
You can read the full column here.