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Defying global trends, non-university public research organizations (PROs) continue to be key players in Germanys research landscape. As part of their activities, they provide the work environment for large numbers of Ph.D. students who are then graduated by universities. Similarly, private-sector firms employ substantial numbers of industrial Ph.D. students. Both PROs and the private sector thus help provide human capital for the German system of research and innovation, even though their contribution has been difficult to assess due to limited data availability. In this paper, we employ a unique dataset based on a large-scale record linkage approach to trace how the roles of PROs and firms in doctoral training developed over the past two decades. Our results for about 50,000 STEM Ph.D.s graduated from 1995 to 2013 indicate that across cohorts, increasing shares of STEM Ph.D.s remain employed in academia upon graduation. This trend is accompanied by diminishing shares of Ph.D.s obtaining high incomes, and it is even more pronounced for PhDs who did their dissertation research at PROs. In contrast, we observe a low and over time decreasing probability of industrial PhDs to migrate into academia. Despite reforms aimed at increasing the vertical differentiation of the university sector, our data do not suggest an increasing premium of being trained at top-tier universities. We also study the attainment of leadership and research positions and analyze a subsample of regionally immobile Ph.D.s to explore how strategic location choices relate to the observed patterns.
Contact Person: Michael E. Rose