May 15, 2015

Colloquium Speaker: Michael S. Teitelbaum

Michael S. Teitelbaum is Senior Research Associate in the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. Until 2011 he was Vice President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

He is a demographer, with research interests that include the causes and consequences of very low fertility rates; the drivers and implications of international migration; and patterns and trends in science and engineering labor markets in the U.S. and elsewhere. He is the author or editor of 10 books and a large number of articles on these subjects.

Dr. Teitelbaum previously served on the faculties of Princeton University and Oxford University, and as a visiting scholar at Yale while he was at the Sloan Foundation. Among other roles he has been Staff Director of the Select Committee on Population of the U.S House of Representatives, and Vice Chair and Acting Chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, which issued its final report to the President and Congress in 1997.

He was educated at Reed College and at Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. In 2013 he was selected “Person of the Year” by Science Careers (Science magazine).  


Colloquium Topic: Is the U.S. Falling Behind in Science and Engineering? Strengths, Structural Instabilities, and Perennial Controversies

Is the US falling behind its competitors in world-class science and engineering?  How should we assess the persistent claims from US employers and their lobbyists that they face debilitating shortages of scientists and engineers to staff the many research and development programs in which they are investing  – or the opposing but equally persistent claims from US scientists and engineers that they are experiencing daunting career challenges and insufficient financial support?  Is the US labor market experiencing “shortages” of scientists and engineers --- or “surpluses” of such personnel?  Is Federal support for basic research declining?  Do US K-12 students demonstrate mediocre performance and declining interest in science and math when compared with students in other countries? 

All of these claims can be heard as part of cacophonous political and policy debates about: the quality of US science and engineering education; the sufficiency of public and private support for basic research; and the need, or lack thereof, for major expansion in the number of temporary visas for scientists and engineers wishing to work in the US. This presentation will summarize the empirical evidence on each of these often contradictory claims, offer analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of the current systems that provide scientific and engineering talent to the US workforce, and put forward suggestions for adjustments of these systems that emerge from such evidence.