The status of the United States in the international higher education ecosystem — and, particularly, whether it is losing its longstanding place atop the global pecking order — is a topic of escalating discussion and, in some circles, hand-wringing. Government agencies, global rankings schemes, and authors and analysts of various stripes have all taken turns in recent years at assessing the state of global higher education and America’s declining standing within it (or not?).
Now it’s the economists’ turn. In American Universities in a Global Market [University of Chicago Press], which emerged from a National Bureau of Economic Research conference in 2008, a who’s who of higher ed economists examine varying aspects of the global higher education picture.
Among them: John Bound and Sarah Turner, and Grant Black and Paula E. Stephan, offer a pair of chapters on the changing flow of foreign graduate students. E. Han Kim and Min Zhu explore how universities operate as “firms” when they seek to establish outposts abroad. Eric Bettinger examines the choices American students make as they decide whether to become scientists (or not). And James D. Adams and Richard B. Freeman take broader looks at what the expansion and democratization of higher education elsewhere in the world means for the U.S.
The book’s editor, Charles T. Clotfelter, Z. Smith Reynolds Professor of Public Policy, professor of economics and law at Duke University and director of its Center for the Study of Philanthropy and Voluntarism, answered a set of questions about the book via e-mail.