Pay Peanuts and Get Monkeys? Evidence from Academia
In most countries, academic pay is independent of discipline, thus ignoring differences in labor market opportunities. Using some unique data from a comprehensive research assessment exercise undertaken in one such country – New Zealand – this paper examines the impact of discipline-independent pay on research quality. I find that the greater the difference between the value of a discipline’s outside opportunities and its New Zealand academic salary, the weaker its research performance in New Zealand universities. The latter apparently get what they pay for: disciplines in which opportunity cost is highest relative to the fixed compensation are least able to recruit high-quality researchers. Paying peanuts attracts mainly monkeys.