Doctoral Recipients and Adjunct Labor in Higher Education

Chad Evans, University of Pennsylvania
Sarah Spell, University of Pennsylvania
Frank Furstenberg, University of Pennsylvania

Universities have outsourced more of their teaching assignments to adjunct faculty in recent times and many wonder what consequences this will hold for academic labor. Some even fear that the returns of a PhD are a thing of the past. Using longitudinal data from the Survey of Doctoral Recipients from 2003 to 2010 (N=49,190 person waves), we examine the prevalence of adjuncting in higher education by those holding a PhD credential. Over time, we find increasing rates of adjuncting among this population, but the rate is growing far slower than what has been portrayed in many media sources. This study also explores characteristics associated with the risk of serving as an adjunct in higher education. We conclude by discussing faculty adjuncts in the age and aftermath of the great recession.

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Presented in Poster Session 8: Economy, Labor Force, Education, and Inequality/Gender, Race and Ethnicity