Department of Economics


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 169 (2020) 70–78

DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.10.024


Copyright ©2019 Elsevier B.V. Used by permission.


In a sample of Canadian Ph.D.’s, Warman and Worswick (2010) report that forty-two percent obtained their degree at thirty-four years of age or older. One implication is that those starting their academic career vary in age. As a result, academic labor markets provide a somewhat unique way to investigate the outcomes of workers of different age with similar work experience. This study uses a national sample of over 9,000 faculty to look at the relationship between age at the time a person earns their degree and income. Older individuals are less likely to attend graduate programs in Carnegie Research I institutions, and they are less likely to find employment at a Research I institution. Males are less likely to obtain employment at Carnegie research or doctoral granting institutions even if they attended a graduate program in a Research I institutions. Regression analysis reveals a negative relationship between age at time of degree and earnings. The age penalty is largest for those with the title of professor working at Carnegie research/doctoral institutions. The size of the age penalty for females is less dependent on this distinction. Lastly, the age penalty is evident at the start careers as older faculty are found to learn less in the first three years of obtaining their degree.