Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Why are so many Economics departments housed in such lousy facilities?

Over at the Economic Logic blog the Economic Logician asks
Why are so many Economics departments housed in such lousy facilities? Ugly buildings, run-down, even inappropriate facilities, smelly restrooms, antiquated seminar rooms, dark hallways, 1950's or 1960' architecture, etc. While there are universities that are generally in bad shape, Economics departments surprisingly often get one of the worst draws on campus for their quarters, as long as they are not part of a business school. In the latter case, the situation is completely reversed.

So why are Economics departments that are not part of business schools so badly housed. My hypothesis is that economists really do not care. They are too obsessed with their work to notice where they are. They are all about efficiency, and a fresh coat of paint does not make a difference in that respect. Compared to other departments, it is also surprising to find how little economists bicker to obtain the best offices on the floor. It is just not that important. We achieve prestige in other ways, like a very competitive labor market. And this is where Deans allocate their money to.
A question would be, Are the salaries of those economists in bad accommodation higher than in other departments in better buildings. This would indicate that economists don't care about their surroundings as such and are willing to be compensated for those surroundings via increased salaries. All other things equal.

A second question is, Why is the situation in business schools completely reversed? Do economists in business schools self select because they are the one who do care about their surroundings? If so, why are salaries higher in business schools? Shouldn't they be lower since part of their compensation comes in the form of nice buildings etc? Or is it that economists don't like being in business schools and have to be compensated for being there via both better facilities and higher salaries?

1 comment:

Crampton said...

Correlate with male-to-female ratio across departments; bet that explains much.