Monday, October 22, 2018

Schools with the highest percentage of tenured faculty on one or more of the most-cited lists by specialty, 2013-2017

Since August, and drawing on the Sisk data, I have produced lists of the most-cited tenured faculty in 20 areas of specialization:  corporate law & securities regulation; constitutional law; commercial law (incl. contracts and bankruptcy); tax; property; torts & insurance; civil procedure; family law; legal history; law & economics, law & philosophy; law & social science (other than economics); election law; public law other than constitutional (including, e.g., administrative, environmental, legislation, telecommunication and regulatory law), critical theories of law:  feminist and critical race; legal ethics/legal profession; intellectual property & cyberlaw; evidence, antitrust; international law & security; and criminal law & procedure.  Some of these were "top 10" lists, some bigger, depending on the breadth (how many scholars working in it) and depth (i.e., volume of citations) of the field.  Obviously different choices (e.g., top 10 rather than top 15 or vice versa) would have made some difference to the number of tenured faculty represented on different lists.  Some excellent faculties (Virginia is the clearest example), partly in virtue of size and partly in virtue of other factors, didn't have a high percentage of tenured faculty on these most-cited lists (other factors in UVA's case include that some of their first-rate faculty [e.g., Goluboff in legal history, Mahoney in corporate] are just not identified by citation counts, while many highly productive and influential faculty [e.g., Prakash, C. Nelson] are in fields where citation counts overall are VERY high, and so just didn't make the lists).  With those caveats in mind, here are law schools with at least four faculty on the most-cited lists ranked according to what percentage of the tenured faculty in the Sisk study made one of the lists.   The "top 24" list is followed by a list of law schools that had three faculty on the "most-cited" lists and those that had two.

This concludes the citation rankings for the 2013-2017 period studied by Professor Sisk and colleagues at St. Thomas.

Rank

School

Percentage

# tenured faculty on most-cited lists

Total tenured faculty in Sisk study

1

Yale University

52%

27

52

2

University of Chicago

38%

12

32

3

Harvard University

37%

31

85

4

New York University

36%

30

83

5

Columbia University

34%

23

68

6

University of Pennsylvania

33%

13

40

7

University of California, Berkeley

30%

16

54

8

Stanford University

26%

13

50

9

University of California, Irvine

24%

6

25

10

Vanderbilt University

22%

8

37

11

Duke University

21%

9

42

12

University of California, Los Angeles

20%

12

60

13

Cornell University

18%

7

39

14

University of Minnesota

17%

7

41

15

George Washington University

16%

9

57

16

George Mason University

15%

5

34

 

Northwestern University

15%

6

40

18

University of Michigan

14%

7

49

19

University of Texas, Austin

13%

8

61

20

University of San Diego

12%

4

33

21

Boston University

11%

4

38

 

Georgetown University

11%

10

94

23

Fordham University

  9%

4

47

 

University of Virginia

  9%

6

65

Continue reading

October 22, 2018 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Average salaries and indebtedness

Interesting stats, but bear in mind three things:  first, this includes only students who refinanced their law school loans; second, schools continue to be a bit slippery about how they report average starting salaries; and third, average starting salaries are sensitive to region of the country (any school that primarily places in NYC "big law" will come out with higher average salaries, all else equal).  The strong performance by major regional schools--like BYU and Georgia--is striking.

October 18, 2018 in Legal Profession, Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Law schools ranked by *median* scholarly impact of the tenured faculty, 2013-2017

After reading an article about Duke Law School's strong performance in the Sisk study of scholarly impact, which emphasized its strong median score, I thought I'd take a look at how the schools rank by median citations.  Here's the top 25, with the median number in parentheses, followed by the overall rank based on mean and median (treating differences of one as ties):

1.  Yale University (394) (#1 overall)

2.  University of Chicago (331) (#3 overall)

3.  Harvard University (318) (#2 overall)

4.  New York University (281) (#4 overall)

5.  Columbia University (242) (#5 overall)

6.  Duke University (231) (#8 overall)

     Stanford University (230) (#6 overall)

8.  Cornell University (220) (#13 overall)

9.  University of California, Berkeley (193) (#7 overall) 

10. University of Pennsylvania (188) (#9 overall)

11. University of California, Los Angeles (182) #11 overall)

12. University of California, Irvine (174) (#12 overall)

13. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (172) (#14 overall)

14. Vanderbilt University (169) (#10 overall)

15. University of Notre Dame (145) (#26 overall)

      University of Texas, Austin (146) (#19 overall)

Continue reading

October 17, 2018 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Valparaiso's Law School a step closer to moving to Middle Tennessee State University

MOVING TO FRONT FROM OCTOBER 11--UPDATED

Both  universities have now formally approved the transfer. State higher education officials in Tennessee must now approve it.

UPDATE:  The Tenn. Higher Education Commission has rejected the plan.

October 16, 2018 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Monday, October 15, 2018

10 Most-Cited Legal Ethics/Legal Profession faculty in the U.S. for the period 2013-2017 (1st draft)

Based on the latest Sisk data, here are the  ten most-cited legal ethics profession aculty in U.S. law schools for the period 2013-2017 (inclusive) (remember that the data was collected in late May of 2018, and that the pre-2018 database did expand a bit since then).  Numbers are rounded to the nearest five.    Faculty for whom 75% or more of their citations (based on a sample) are in this area are listed; others with less than 75% of their citations in this field (but still a plurality) are listed in the category of "other highly cited scholars who work partly in this area."      

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2018

1

Deborah Rhode

Stanford University

975

66

2

David Luban

Georgetown University

640

69

3

William Simon

Columbia University

505

71

4

Bruce Green

Fordham University

415

63

5

David Wilkins

Harvard University

385

62

6

William Henderson, Jr.

Indiana University, Bloomington

365

56

7

Stephen Gillers

New York University

245

75

 

W. Bradley Wendel

Cornell University

245

49

9

Russell Pearce

Fordham University

205

62

10

Leslie Levin

University of Connecticut

165

63

   

Other highly-cited scholars who work partly in this area

   
 

Robert W. Gordon

Stanford University

365

77

 

Richard Painter

University of Minnesota

275

56

 

Peter Margulies

Roger Williams University

235

62

October 15, 2018 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Friday, October 12, 2018

20 Most-Cited Critical Theories of Law (Feminist and Critical Race) Scholars in the U.S. for the period 2013-2017 (1st draft)

Based on the latest Sisk data, here are the  twenty most-cited critical theories of law (Critical Race and feminist) scholars in U.S. law schools for the period 2013-2017 (inclusive) (remember that the data was collected in late May of 2018, and that the pre-2018 database did expand a bit since then).  Numbers are rounded to the nearest five.    Faculty for whom 75% or more of their citations (based on a sample) are in this area are listed; others with less than 75% of their citations in this field (but still a plurality) are listed in the category of "other highly cited scholars who work partly in this area."

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2018

1

Martha Minow

Harvard University

800

64

2

Richard Delgado

University of Alabama

715

78

3

Kimberle Crenshaw

Columbia University; University of

California, Los Angeles

695

59

4

Catharine MacKinnon

University of Michigan

630

72

5

Dorothy Roberts

University of Pennsylvania

580

62

6

Martha Fineman

Emory University

515

68

 

Robin West

Georgetown University

515

64

8

Ian Haney Lopez

University of California, Berkeley

495

54

9

Jerry Kang

University of California, Los Angeles

480

50

10

Devon Carbado

University of California, Los Angeles

455

52

11

Joan Williams

University of California, Hastings

410

66

12

Charles Lawrence III

University of Hawaii

390

75

13

Janet Halley

Harvard University

370

66

14

Katherine Franke

Columbia University

315

59

15

Ruth Colker

Ohio State University

295

62

 

Mari Matsuda

University of Hawaii

295

62

 

Jean Stefancic

University of Alabama

295

78

18

Elizabeth Schneider

Brooklyn Law School

285

70

19

Katharine Bartlett

Duke University

280

71

 

Angela Onwuachi-Willig

Boston University

280

45

   

Runner-up for the top twenty

   
 

Nancy Leong

University of Denver

275

39

   

Other highly-cited scholars who work partly in critical theories of law

   
 

Deborah Rhode

Stanford University

975

66

 

Martha Nussbaum

University of Chicago

930

71

 

G. Mitu Gulati

Duke University

735

52

 

Kevin Johnson

University of California, Davis

595

60

 

Gabriel (“Jack”) Chin

University of California, Davis

530

54

October 12, 2018 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

In Memoriam: Robert Pitofsky (1929-2018)

A leading figure in antitrust, he was also Dean of the law school at Georgetown (where he taught for many years) as well as Chair of the Federal Trade Commission from 1995 to 2001.  The Georgetown memorial notice is here.

(Thanks to Daniel Crane for the pointer.)

October 9, 2018 in Memorial Notices | Permalink

Monday, October 8, 2018

10 Most-Cited Evidence Law Faculty in the U.S. for the period 2013-2017 (UPDATED AND CORRECTED)

Based on the latest Sisk data, here are the  ten most-cited evidence faculty in U.S. law schools for the period 2013-2017 (inclusive) (remember that the data was collected in late May of 2018, and that the pre-2018 database did expand a bit since then).  Numbers are rounded to the nearest five.    Faculty for whom 75% or more of their citations (based on a sample) are in this area are listed; others with less than 75% of their citations in this field (but still a plurality) are listed in the category of "other highly cited scholars who work partly in this area."     

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2018

1

Ronald J. Allen

Northwestern University

355

70

2

David Faigman

University of California, Hastings

325

61

3

David Kaye

Pennsylvania State University, University Park

280

71

4

Erin Murphy

New York University

245

45

5

George Fisher

Stanford University

220

57

6

Jennifer Mnookin

University of California, Los Angeles

215

51

7

Richard Friedman

University of Michigan

195

67

 

Christopher Mueller

University of Colorado, Boulder

195

75

9

Edward Cheng

Vanderbilt University

175

42

 

Laird Kirkpatrick

George Washington University

175

75

   

Runner-up for the top ten

   
 

Robert Mosteller

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

165

70

   

Other highly-cited scholars who work partly in this area

   
 

Frederick Schauer

University of Virginia

1530

72

 

Brian Leiter

University of Chicago

  460

55

 

David Bernstein

George Mason University

  420

51

 

Michael Saks

Arizona State University

  300

71

 

Jeffrey Bellin

College of William & Mary

  190

45

October 8, 2018 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

In Memoriam: Robert M. O'Neil (1934-2018)

Law professor, First Amendment and academic freedom expert, and former leader of both the University of Wisconsin and the University of Virginia; the Washington Post obituary is here.

October 8, 2018 in Memorial Notices | Permalink

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Financial Times: White House Considered Blanket Ban on Student Visas for Chinese Nationals, partly with goal of hurting Universities (Michael Simkovic)

From the Financial Times:

"White House hawks earlier this year encouraged President Donald Trump to stop providing student visas to Chinese nationals, but the proposal was shelved over concerns about its economic and diplomatic impact. . . . 

Stephen Miller, a White House aide who has been pivotal in developing the administration’s hardline immigration policies, pushed the president and other officials to make it impossible for Chinese citizens to study in the US, according to four people familiar with internal discussions. . . .

While the debate was largely focused on spying, Mr. Miller argued his plan would also hurt elite universities whose staff and students have been highly critical of Mr Trump, according to the three people with knowledge of the debate.

The issue came to a head in an Oval Office meeting in the spring during which Mr Miller squared off with administration opponents, including Terry Branstad, the former Iowa governor who is US ambassador to China.

According to the four people familiar with the discussions, ahead of the Oval Office meeting Mr Branstad argued that Mr Miller’s plan would take a much bigger toll on smaller colleges, including in Iowa, than on wealthy Ivy League universities. US embassy officials in Beijing also made a broader economic argument that most American states enjoy service-sector trade surpluses with China, in part because of spending by Chinese students.

Mr Branstad succeeded in convincing the president that Mr Miller’s proposal was too draconian, according to one person familiar with the White House showdown. At one point, Mr Trump looked at his ambassador and quipped: “Not everyone can go to Harvard or Princeton, right Terry?”

One person familiar with the debate said Mr Miller’s opponents were worried the president might return to the issue, particularly as he takes an increasingly tough line on China over everything from trade to cyber security.  

Continue reading

October 7, 2018 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Of Academic Interest, Science, Weblogs | Permalink

Thursday, October 4, 2018

10 Most-Cited Property Law Faculty in the U.S. for the period 2013-2017 (CORRECTED)

Based on the latest Sisk data, here are the  ten most-cited property faculty in U.S. law schools for the period 2013-2017 (inclusive) (remember that the data was collected in late May of 2018, and that the pre-2018 database did expand a bit since then).  Numbers are rounded to the nearest five.    Faculty for whom 75% or more of their citations (based on a sample) are in this area are listed; others with less than 75% of their citations in this field (but still a plurality) are listed in the category of "other highly cited scholars who work partly in this area."    

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2018

1

Henry Smith

Harvard University

660

53

2

Joseph William Singer

Harvard University

625

64

3

Vicki Been

New York University

460

62

4

Michael Heller

Columbia University

410

55

5

Lee Fennell

University of Chicago

365

52

6

Stewart Sterk

Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University

315

66

7

Gregory Alexander

Cornell University

300

71

8

Eduardo Penalver

Cornell University

295

47

9

Nester Davidson

Fordham University

245

51

10

Christopher Serkin

Vanderbilt University

170

47

 

 

Other highly-cited scholars who work partly in this area

 

 

 

Thomas Merrill

Columbia University

1595

69

 

Gideon Parchomovsky

University of Pennsylvania

  620

50

 

Lior Strahilevitz

University of Chicago

  425

45

 

Stuart Banner

University of California, Los Angeles

  345

55

 

Michael Blumm

Lewis & Clark

  315

68

 

 

October 4, 2018 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Letter from law professors opposed to the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

The letter and details about how to sign here.

ADDENDUM:  I provide this for those interested.  I don't feel I should sign since I was already opposed to Judge Kavanaugh's nomination to the Court, for reasons one can gather here.  He holds some reactionary moral and political views that will inevitably influence some of his decisions:  that's enough for me to be opposed.   I think the allegations against him add reasons to oppose the nomination, but I feel less strongly that his belligerent performance before the Senate does.  (I would think the best evidence of "judicial temperament" is the temperament on display while judging--which he has done for a dozen years--not that on display while defending oneself from serious, public allegations.)  But some readers will no doubt feel differently, and perhaps there are even some for whom the performance in the Senate hearing changed their prior view about the merits.

October 3, 2018 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

10 Most-Cited Antitrust Faculty in the U.S. for the period 2013-2017 (CORRECTED)

MOVING TO FRONT FROM SEPTEMBER 19--CORRECTED

Based on the latest Sisk data, here are the  ten most-cited antitrust faculty in U.S. law schools for the period 2013-2017 (inclusive) (remember that the data was collected in late May of 2018, and that the pre-2018 database did expand a bit since then).  Numbers are rounded to the nearest five.    Faculty for whom 75% or more of their citations (based on a sample) are in this area are listed; others with less than 75% of their citations in this field (but still a plurality) are listed in the category of "other highly cited scholars who work partly in this area." 

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2016

1

Herbert Hovenkamp

University of Pennsylvania

985

70

2

Joshua Wright

George Mason University

560

41

3

Michael Carrier

Rutgers University

400

48

4

Daniel Crane

University of Michigan

355

48

5

William Kovacic

George Washington University

345

66

6

C. Scott Hemphill

New York University

305

45

7

Christopher Leslie

University of California, Irvine

290

54

8

D. Daniel Sokol

University of Florida

250

44

9

Spencer Waller

Loyola University, Chicago

220

61

10

Timothy Muris

George Mason University

215

69

 

Runner-up

     
 

Bruce Koboyashi

George Mason University

210

59

   

Other highly-cited scholars who work partly in this area

   
 

Mark Lemley

Stanford University

2200

52

 

Louis Kaplow

Harvard University

1080

62

 

Einer Elhauge

Harvard University

  645

57

 

Timothy Wu

Columbia University

  620

46

 

George Priest

Yale University

  480

65

 

October 2, 2018 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Monday, October 1, 2018

A damning indictment of the culture of Yale Law School by an alumnus

Here; an excerpt:

Distinction at Yale is not tied all that closely to grades: The law school abolished traditional grades in the late 1960s, adopting a system whereby there are essentially only two grades: Honors and Pass. Career advancement is tied particularly to networking—making a few well-connected faculty members see themselves in you, so that down the line they’ll call their friends on the bench. Clerkships were an obsession: a good one, we gathered, had the power to make a career.

 

The resulting patronage system fostered a sort of self-interested blindness on the part of faculty and students alike. Most federal judges, in my experience, are reasonable and desirable bosses for the handful of clerks they employ each year. Some, however, are not. And all preside, even more than the standard boss, over a dictatorship. Federal anti-discrimination laws do not apply to federal judges. Meanwhile, given their stature and connections, federal judges hold tremendous power over the reputations and career prospects of their clerks.

 

Notorious among the judges to avoid, when I was in school, was Alex Kozinski, the appeals judge for whom Kavanaugh clerked. Kozinski retired last year amid a flurry of sexual harassment allegations by former clerks, junior staff, attorneys and judges who accused the judge of behavior ranging from explicit comments to forcible and unwanted kissing and groping. (Kozinski has apologized for making “any of my clerks … feel uncomfortable,” but has also disputed these allegations.) Kozinski’s sexual innuendo—both in chambers and on an email list of former clerks—has become infamous, but when I was in school, the rumor mill among students spoke only in hushed and vague tones.

 

Typically, at least one of Judge Kozinski’s clerks each year came from Yale, propelled in part by connections from law professors. For faculty, sending students to clerk for judges like Kozinski and Kavanaugh—“feeder” judges whose clerks often go on to clerk on the Supreme Court—is a point of pride, a way to further distinguish oneself in the upper echelons of the legal profession. But the self-interested blindness of faculty can lead to obvious and tangible harms for students who become clerks. Kozinski’s harassing conduct, it seems, was an open secret: visible to those who knew to look, while hidden to those who didn’t—or didn’t want to see.

Continue reading

October 1, 2018 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Endowments and Climate Change (Michael Simkovic)

Public pension funds in New York and California are increasingly considering Climate Change related risks as a criteria for guiding their investment decisions.  The move to consider climate change is driven in part by a perception of insufficient federal action on these issues and the prospect of environmental harm eroding long term performance for a diversified portfolio of investments.

Should university endowments also emphasize ESG considerations?

Comments are open and moderated.  Real names only, please.

September 29, 2018 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on the "State of Intellectual Freedom in America" (Michael Simkovic)

I testified earlier today at the House Judiciary Committee on the "State of Intellectual Freedom in America."  A copy of my written testimony can be seen here.  My shorter oral remarks are available here.

An excerpt appears below:

"Disagreement between knowledgeable scientific experts and median political views often do not suggest political bias on the part of scientists, but rather an effort by think tanks, media organizations, interest groups and politicians to inappropriately politicize scientific issues.

For example, the causes and consequences of Climate Change are scientific issues. The likely economic harm from such changes, and the costs of preventing or mitigating them, are also scientific issues. So are the adverse health consequences from air and water pollution or the health effects of smoking. So is the question of whether tax cuts can generate enough economic growth to reduce the Debt-to-GDP ratio.

While scientific questions can have political and policy implications, scientific inquiry should not be politicized. The best evidence should be analyzed with the best methods, and the implications and degree of uncertainty honestly conveyed to policymakers and the public.

But according to scientific experts, many scientific issues have been inappropriately politicized when scientific evidence threatened private sector profits or government budgets. These issues include the causes and effects of climate change, the health risks of pollution, and the dangers of tobacco use.

According to a Pew survey, nearly 80 percent of scientists believe that previous administrations suppressed government scientists’ findings for political reasons. Many scientists worry that suppression of scientific findings for political reasons is becoming more common.

Note that the Pew sample consists overwhelmingly of natural or “hard” scientists in fields such as medical sciences, chemistry, physics and geosciences. Pew’s sample included those who work in private industry as well as those who work in government and universities.

Recently, there have been systematic efforts by some members of Congress to weaken the role of science in informing agency rule-making and increase the role of political actors. Some politicians have also sought to prevent government agencies from collecting basic data about demographics, the environment, health and safety, and the economy, even if de-identified to protect individual privacy.

Today, threats to academic freedom can come from powerful donors, political leaders, and outside pressure groups who sometimes seek to subtly (or not so subtly) influence ostensibly neutral and unbiased academic research to further their own business interests or other political preferences.

The best way to protect universities from undue influence may be to secure and expand revenue sources that are indifferent to or cannot sway the conclusions of academic research. This is analogous to the approach we take to try to protect the independence of members of the federal judiciary or the Federal Reserve."

 

September 27, 2018 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest, Religion, Science, Weblogs | Permalink

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

10 Most-Cited Family Law Faculty in the U.S. for the period 2013-2017 (UPDATED)

 Based on the latest Sisk data, here are the  ten most-cited family law faculty in U.S. law schools for the period 2013-2017 (inclusive) (remember that the data was collected in late May of 2018, and that the pre-2018 database did expand a bit since then).  Numbers are rounded to the nearest five.    Faculty for whom 75% or more of their citations (based on a sample) are in this area are listed; others with less than 75% of their citations in this field (but still a plurality) are listed in the category of "other highly cited scholars who work partly in this area."  

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2016

1

Martha Fineman

Emory University

515

68

2

Naomi Cahn

George Washington University

500

60

3

Elizabeth Scott

Columbia University

500

73

4

Douglas NeJaime

Yale University

415

40

5

June Carbone

University of Minnesota

325

64

6

Joanna Grossman

Southern Methodist University

315

50

7

Mark Strasser

Capital University

295

63

8

Nancy Polikoff

American University

280

66

9

Robin Wilson

University of Illinois

265

50

10

Melissa Murray

New York University

255

43

   

Runner-up:

   
 

Jill Hasday

University of Minnesota

245

46

   

Other highly-cited scholars who work partly in this area

   
 

Martha Minow

Harvard University

800

64

 

Janet Halley

Harvard University

370

66

 

Katharine Bartlett

Duke University

280

71

 

I. Glenn Cohen

Harvard University

280

40

 

Angela Onwuachi-Willig

Boston University

280

45

 

September 26, 2018 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Hoxby (Stanford): Economic benefits of online education may not cover the cost (Michael Simkovic)

A recent working paper by Caroline Hoxby (Stanford) suggests that the economic returns to online education (measured in terms of wage growth) may be too low to recoup the costs of these programs, especially as administered at for-profit institutions.  Hoxby used a fixed effects approach, measuring earnings before and after online education compared to likely earnings without online education.  She found that online education does not boost earnings by very much, and it does not do much to move students into more lucrative industries or occupations.  Hoxby found evidence that most students pursuing exclusively online degrees lived within commuting distance of brick-and-mortar institutions that likely offered higher quality education with better returns.

Hoxby's observational results are consistent with experimental studies that have found worse outcomes for students randomly assigned to online education compared to traditional education.

In previous research, Hoxby warned that the spread of online education could undermine highly selective institutions' ability to finance original research and teaching innovations.  Hoxby wrote: "selective] institutions weaken rather than strengthen their market power in research and original content creation when they increase their exposure on the internet."

Hoxby's working paper has been criticized by groups advocating partnerships between for-profit technology companies and educational institutions to spread online education to non-profit and public institutions.  For-profits have been online education's earliest and most enthusiastic adopters, while private non-profit and public institutions have generally taken a more conservative approach.  The strongest of the critiques of Hoxby's paper is that it looked at returns over the course of 10 years rather than a lifetime.  The present value of lifetime earnings premiums is a more appropriate measure of the returns to education.  

Related coverage: Should online education come with an asterisk

September 25, 2018 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest, Science, Web/Tech | Permalink

Monday, September 24, 2018

Yale Law investigating allegations about Amy Chua's advice to clerkship applicants to Judge Kavanaugh

IHE has some details, including Professor Chua's denial of the allegations.

September 24, 2018 in Faculty News, Legal Profession | Permalink

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Think tanks, CBO dramatically overestimated the direct budgetary costs of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (Michael Simkovic)

I've previously noted some of the outrageously implausible assumptions used by organizations with links to private student lenders (such as the New American Foundation, AEI, Brookings, Manhattan Institute, and Barclays) in an apparent effort to portray federal student loans as a threat to the public fisc. Such studies have been used to justify increases in federal student loan interest rates, credit rationing (borrowing caps), and a less accommodative policy with respect to income based loan forgiveness.  

A new government report suggests that these groups may have also over-estimated the costs of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).  PSLF is distinct from income-base repayment programs (IBR).  Whereas IBR is intended as insurance for student loan borrowers against relatively low earnings persisting over the course of a 20 year period, PSLF is intended as a wage subsidy to encourage highly educated skilled workers to accept public sector and non-profit jobs and continue to work in them for at least 10 years.  

Early estimates had wildly exaggerated the cost of PSLF, assuming that 25 percent of student loans would be discharged through these programs within 10 years, since at any one time around 25 percent of the workforce works in the public sector.

There are numerous problems with this estimate: graduates transition in and out of the workforce; graduates move between the private and public sectors; not all public sector work qualifies for PSLF. It will therefore take far more than 10 years after graduation for many borrowers to accumulate a sufficient period of time working in qualifying public sector jobs before they can earn forgiveness.  During this time period, borrowers continue to make student loan payments, decreasing the budgetary costs of eventual debt forgiveness.  The eligibility and documentation requirements for PSLF are also stringent, further disqualifying many applicants.

According to the government report noted above, in the first year in which graduates could potentially qualify, only 28,000 borrowers applied and only 96 (less than 0.5%) qualified for forgiveness.  28 percent of applications were disqualified for missing information, while over 70 percent were disqualified because they had not yet met the program eligibility requirements.

The total balance forgiven in the first half of 2018 was $5.52 million dollars. The CBO, relying in part on assumptions advocated by think thanks, had estimated that the program would cost $425 million in 2018, and nearly $24 billion within 10 years. 

While qualifying applications are likely to grow in the coming years, the contrast between the high estimated cost and the low actual cost thus far is striking.

September 23, 2018 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest, Science, Weblogs | Permalink