Mapping the international mobility of political scientists

Pippa Norris was kind enough to share an advance version of the dataset she collected on academic political scientists around the world, which will be presented for the 50th anniversary of the European Consortium for Political Research. The datasets contains lots of variables about the education, place of work and career of political scientists employed at universities around the world. Because it includes information on the country where political scientists were born, where they got their degrees and where they work at the time of the survey, it is also suitable to visualise the international mobility of political scientists.

International mobility of political scientists

The first graph shows a network of political scientists who work in another country as the one where they were born: current country is the target, and country of birth is the source. I have restricted the data to individuals who hold a PhD, which results in a network of 445 individuals (the full dataset, which of course includes individuals who work in their country of birth, has 2446 entries). This variable is not able to differentiate whether people have grown up/studied in the country where they were born or not (we can gain some more information with the country of PhD as the source below). Moreover, the representativeness of this sample is not clear because of relatively low response rates for some countries, so we should be careful about generalisations.

Some interesting trends which correspond to intuition emerge, however. The United Kingdom appears as a central node in the network, mostly as a receiver of academics born elsewhere. The biggest exporters of political scientists to the UK are the United States and Germany, which has a negative migration saldo possibly due to the structure of the German academic job market (however, as mentioned below, the absence of academics with a German PhD working in the UK in the sample leaves a few doubts about the representativeness of the sample). The United States sends much more political scientists to Britain than the other way round; in contrast, the migration saldo between the UK and Australia is negative. Germany also sends a significant number of political scientists to the Netherlands, Switzerland and Scandinavia. What also comes out of the network is the centrality of Europe, North America and Australia in the mobility network.

Inflows and outflows of political scientists (country of birth-country of employment)

The data presented above uses country of birth as the origin of individuals. A different picture emerges if we take the country where they did their PhD as the origin, and the current country of employment as the target. This is what the second graph below shows. The nodes here are sized by out-degree: they are proportional to the number of outgoing PhDs . We can clearly see the dominance of the UK and the US in the network as the largest suppliers of PhDs for export. If we related this to the pattern presented in the previous network, this seems to involve essentially non-Brits obtaining their PhD in Britain and going elsewhere to work, possibly their country of birth. Italy occupies an interesting position in the network as a major exporter of PhDs, which can probably be accounted for by the European University Institute. There are some puzzling things in the data, however: strangely, there are only 3 political scientists in the dataset with a German PhD working in Britain, and none with a Dutch PhD. As mentioned before, the data should be taken with a pinch of salt; Ideally, this type of data could be collected from websites for completeness, as relying on surveys with variable response rates is bound to have a few problems.

Mobility of political scientists by where they got their PhD

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