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October 17, 2005



you may find this interesting.

Dr. angry economist

I stayed on at Uni to do a Ph.D, then promptly left once I realised what these places were like to work in! and the wages! crap.

Subsequently I have never worked anywhere as badly organised, or with as poor staff morale as a university.

The only way to be a university worker is to be a professor with the chance to earn some private consultancy bucks really. But you have to write articles in a style that is really quite dull and inaccessible to most.

I have several friends working post-Ph.D. in universities and it is definitely a calling which they enjoy but have had to put up with lots of cr*p for.

So far, after 7 years post-Ph.D. its probably made no difference to my earnings at all, even though I'm doing quite well. If I hadn't done the Ph.D. I'd probably be earning around the same. But I might not have as good analytical and writing skills as I have now, that's true.

Thatcher might have done you a favour. But if you had a Ph.D. in economics, related to, or applicable to the financial sector you would have got a job most likely. What is under question is if you would be paid any more or less.

Certainly the earliest years were the hardest - folks seemed scared of hiring me - they didn't want a "young genius" (not claiming to be a genius, more an issue of their perceptions) working for them but someone a bit more compliant.

My Ph.D. supervisor actually gave helpful advice, if quite demoralising at the time "best looking for a job outside of universities, they are crap places to work these days and can't offer someone like you much at all."

The main benefit of a Ph.D., for me is the core analytical skillset and the fact I can research and learn about most things in econonomics and social science and get my head around them fairly easily. Can take my hand to a lot of stuff. Fairly helpful in current job. Should come in handy in my life/career.


As for (1); somebody has to get the prize, remember. If not Thatcher, then Attlee; if not Attlee, then Wilson, etc.


Very interesting post. I'm going through a similar dilemma at the moment - whether to continue on with academic work, or get a job. If academia were well-remunerated, then I think my choice would be easy. But instead I have to think of the work-earnings balance.


Don't even think about going to work in a UK University. It used to be that you accepted modest pay in return for considerable autonomy. Now the pay is lousy and the autonomy under perpetual attack.

David Wildgoose

Well since you've brought the subject up again, I'll take you to task on your opposition to Council House Sales.

One of the worst thing that Labour did just before and after the war was build huge monolithic Council Estates, typically either high-rise or outside of town, (and often with limited facilities).

They deliberately created a monoculture in which there would be few good role-models to inspire kids to work hard and do well.

All typical socialist drag everybody down to the lowest common denominator stuff of course, but it wreaked havoc on the decent poor.

Selling off Council Houses cheaply helped to start to recreate a social mix that could undo this damage.

It might or might not have been their intention, but seeing as Thatcher is being attacked for things she didn't intend, let's at least be even-handed about it.

Chris Williams

David, what country do you live in? When Labour built council estates in the 1940s they were roomy and expensive, and only yr respectable semi-skilled and skilled workers could afford them. In 1950 they were a monoculture alright: no slummies allowed.

Then the Tories got in, built more council houses and flats, lowered the standards, lowered the rents and let everyone in. But give or take rather a lot, it didn't all go tits-up until the early 1980s Tories said to everyone with some cash and a stable life who lived in a nice council house: 'buy this for nowt'.

Now all the nice houses/flats are no longer in public ownership, most of the respectable own their houses, and the public housing shortage means that you need serious points (ie, need to be screwed up, or prepared to pretend to be) to get into a council house/flat. _Now_ it's a lot more of a monoculture.

Hang on, though, with a name like Wildgoose, are you from Sheffield? I've heard that even the Manor was nice at one time.


Perhaps you should take Nassim Taleb's Nero Tulip as a role model & have your cake and eat it. Get rich and then indulge yourself with academia (maybe your other job with the IC is seen in that light?)

Neil Harding

Of course, if we had had a decent electoral system, Labour would have won the election in 1951.


If we had a decent electoral system, Labour would never have won an election: the "People's Party" has never won 50% of the vote.

David Wildgoose

Yes, I'm from Sheffield, (Rotherham originally). And yes, I've heard that the Manor was once nice (when it was newly built).

And I'm afraid that "When Labour built council estates in the 1940s they were roomy and expensive, and only yr respectable semi-skilled and skilled workers could afford them. In 1950 they were a monoculture alright: no slummies allowed." is just plain wrong.

Take the notorious Flower Estate in Wincobank for example. I know (or rather knew) it well, because it's where my parents grew up and met. When my mother moved to it in 1952 aged 10 because my grandmother wanted a bathroom, she said she hated it because of all the slum clearance people on the estate - she preferred the much poorer housing she had been living in because there were decent people around them.

Rob Read

It's the people not the place.

Shit people create shit places.

The "welfare" state is a shit people factory.

Mr Scargill

Look, I grew up in a playground in the 80s, somewhere in Yorkshire, with the surname Scargill.

Mrs T. gets a lot of bad press, she did a good job for this country and laid the ground for it's current economic climate. She took some hard but inevitable and unpopular decisions (closing the less than economically viable UK coal mines, etc.) OK things could have been better, done with greater sensitivity, etc. hell - hindsight gives us that luxury. But would you seriously have rather had Kinnock?!?

The current Labour government is only in power because they moved so far to the right.

Anyhow - the point I want to make is this:

Whatever happened is history, it's legacy may remain but sitting here, looking back and reflecting on what could have been if parameters x, y or z were different is a waste of time. It's pure speculation.

The only thing that matters is the here and now and what we want to build for our future. You make your decisions at a point in time, given all the information available to you, etc.

If you seriously regret not getting that PhD you can always study for it now. Although our current 'socialist' government would like you to pay for it. If you don't have the money up front, don't worry - we have a nice 'buy now, pay forever' option. I was considering doing a distance learning MSc in Finance. You wouldn't believe how much a few sets of notes, a list of books to read and having some coursework and exams marked costs in this country: £8,000-10,000!!!

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