Paolo Martellini, Todd Schoellman and Jason Sockin have a fascinating new paper
on ranking global universities based on estimates of the human capital of their graduates. One intuitive way to do this would be to look at average earnings after graduation - but of course you immediately run into the problem that the country
you work in has a big impact on salaries. The authors use a large and unusual dataset from Glassdoor
to correct for this. By looking at how college graduates’ earnings change when they move country, they’re able to estimate for each college what the average earnings would
be if everyone was graduating into the same labour market.
The results are fascinating. Their top 50 includes many familiar names - Harvard, Columbia, etc - but the top 10 is dominated by the Indian Institutes of Technology; number one is… IIT Ropar
(you guessed, obviously). To be clear, this isn’t a measure of college “value add”, just a measure of how highly the market values a college’s graduates (I don’t have space to get into it here, but the paper does a great job of various robustness checks to reduce the chance they’re measuring something else). I’m a sucker for ranking pretty much anything, but as well as the intrinsic interest, the authors discover a lot of results with real-world impact.
First, the paper suggests that poorer countries not only experience “brain drain” as a high proportion of their graduate talent, but as a disproportionate percentage of their best
graduates. Second, “college graduate quality” predicts a country’s number of Nobel prize winners, entrepreneurs and executives. Third, countries vary wildly in the quality of the talent they attract; the winners are the UK and the US (but for how long?
); the losers are Japan and Korea. Much more in the full paper
, which I highly recommend.