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Report: Anxiety Among Economics Ph.D. Students Comparable to Incarcerated Populations

Report: Anxiety Among Economics Ph.D. Students Comparable to Incarcerated Populations

“the average economics Ph.D. student feels considerably lonelier and more isolated than a retired American”

Who knew studying economics was such a downer?

Inside Higher Ed reports:

A Very Mixed Record on Grad Student Mental Health

From impostor syndrome and other feelings of being out of place, to periods of isolation and to constant short- and long-term deadlines, graduate school presents serious potential challenges to students’ mental health. There’s also financial strain, navigating complex relationships with advisers and colleagues, the job market, and myriad other worries.

Despite that, there are relatively little large-scale data on graduate student mental health. There isn’t much research on the topic to begin with, and those studies that do exist tend to be small in scale or have low response rates, or both. Things are changing: a widely cited study from earlier this year involving several thousand graduate students found that they were six times more likely than the general population to experience anxiety and depression. It called the matter a “crisis.” Still, most campus efforts at improving students’ psychological well-being have been focused on undergraduates…

Barreira’s new paper is based on eight programs in economics, housed at Harvard, Columbia, Princeton and Yale Universities, the University of Michigan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California campuses in Berkeley and San Diego.

About 18 percent of students experienced moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety, compared to about 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively, among 25- to 34-year-olds in the general U.S. population, according to one 2013 study. Eleven percent of respondents, or 56 people, reported having suicidal thoughts on at least several days within the previous two weeks. One-quarter of students had been previously diagnosed with a mental health issue, about half of them before the Ph.D. program and half after…

Moreover, the study says, “the prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms among economics Ph.D. students is comparable to the prevalence found in incarcerated populations.” Loneliness and isolation are major issues, too, as “the average economics Ph.D. student feels considerably lonelier and more isolated than a retired American.” Women and international students are most affected.

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Perhaps many have come to the realization that the progressive drivel being taught by many Econ departments is pure unworkable crap and wishful ‘thinking.’ That Saint Kruggman is talking out his *ss.

And here they are, in a PhD program to possibly teach that same drivel, up to their eyes in dept.

Their research/dissertation hypotheses and data are obviously proving their assumptions to be false, their life’s purposes to be meaningless, and they’re becoming more certain of following AOC’s “brilliant” path of idiocy into bartending school. Zero sympathy for these “academics.”

    bear in reply to bear. | April 29, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    They are in a prison of their own making.

      bear in reply to bear. | April 29, 2019 at 8:04 pm

      How on earth can these snowflakes, or someone speaking for them, compare their angst to incarceration/retirement?! I’m retired (8 years) and when asked I always say, “If it were any better, it would be illegal!”

    Cleetus in reply to bear. | April 30, 2019 at 6:49 am

    If you’ve ever been a Ph.D. student, then this situation is not hard to understand. First you need to realize the typical Ph.D. student is quite bright even by a university’s standard and they are also self motivated, type A personalities. As such, they tend to be outspoken with sharp analytical abilities for a person without these characteristics will rarely make it through the program. Now considered these students, studying something they want to pour their lives into, have discovered that they must parrot what their advisers say and teach even though they know it is wrong and does not work in the real world. In fact, not only is what they are being taught is wrong, but these students see the economy of the last ten years as a slow motion train wreck that they must somehow justify as being superior and correct when in fact it is leading to a self imposed disaster. Lastly, when you study for a Ph.D. it consumes your entire life such that you can think of nothing else for the process is so rigorous that this attitude is normal. (Consider taking a test that starts at 7AM, you write nonstop with a fifteen minute break for lunch, and the professor takes your exam away at 6PM even though you still beg another few hours so you can complete it. This is the level of knowledge you must attain and the degree of testing you are put through. In earning my Ph.D. in Chemistry I faced these kinds of exams on multiple occasions from multiple professors on my committee.) Taken together along with my own experience, the question I have for Economics Ph.D. students is not why they are suffering from this problem, but why more are not. (For the record, my Ph.D. experience and my follow on Post Doctoral appointment/studies marked, by far and away, the greatest period of my entire life.)

I sort of understand where they are. Some science stuff, like the mathematics component of economics, rubs up against the illogical, feeling, component of the social sciences. My area of interest was in pain, which of course butted up against dependence and addiction. I always seemed to be in the bridge zone, between the pure pharmacologists who only saw molecular mechanisms of tolerance and receptor de-sensitization, and the psychologists/sociologists who saw only behavorial or societal influences. And for some unknown reason, they were always wrong when it came time to weigh in on their part. 😉

So these poor economics students are now in a position where the politicians are telling them that their math is just wrong. May as well be a barista at that point, which is now a career path to congress. My ex is a health economist, and I still remember when my uber boss mentioned to her at a social function that if she thought medicine was expensive now (1994), just wait until it is free. FWIW, uber boss was also Ben Carson’s boss. And I agree with that time in my life. Neuroscience at Hopkins was like NASA in the late 60’s.