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Academic Salaries and Public Evaluation of University Research: Evidence from the UK Research Excellence Framework

De Fraja, Gianni; Facchini, Giovanni; Gathergood, John

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Abstract

We study the effects of public evaluation of university research on the pay structures of academic departments. A simple equilibrium model of university pay determination shows how the pay-performance relationship can be explained by the incentives inherent in the research evaluation process. We then analyse the pay-performance relationship using data on the salary of all UK university full professors, matched to the performance of their departments from the 2014 UK government evaluation of research, the Research Excellence Framework (REF). A cross sectional empirical analysis shows that both average pay level and pay inequality in a department are positively related to performance. It also shows that the pay-performance relationship is driven by a feature of the research evaluation that allows academics to transfer the affiliation of published research across universities. To assess the effect of the REF on pay structure, we take advantage of the time dimension of our data and of inherent uncertainty in the evaluation of the performance of academic departments generated by the rules of the exercise. Our results indicate that higher achieving departments benefit from increased subsequent hiring and higher professorial salaries with the salary benefits of REF performance concentrated among the highest paid professors.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2019-07
Journal Economic Policy
Print ISSN 0266-4658
Electronic ISSN 1468-0327
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 34
Issue 99
Pages 523-583
APA6 Citation De Fraja, G., Facchini, G., & Gathergood, J. (2019). Academic Salaries and Public Evaluation of University Research: Evidence from the UK Research Excellence Framework. Economic Policy, 34(99), 523-583. https://doi.org/10.1093/epolic/eiz009
DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/epolic/eiz009
Keywords Research evaluation; Research funding; Research Excellence Framework JEL Codes: D47; H42; I28; L30
Publisher URL https://academic.oup.com/economicpolicy/article/34/99/523/5535599

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