Countering the widespread predictions of a future scientist shortage, several analysts predict a crisis in quality, not quantity

WASHINGTON--The idea of an upcoming massive shortage of scientists and engineers is now being assailed and discredited on many fronts. But that doesn't mean that labor economists and statisticians are anticipating only bright skies ahead for scientists entering the job market. What is emerging is a more limited assessment of employment prospects and the economy that could ultimately result in increased competition for talented faculty among United States universities.

This shift in thinking away from the shortage theory is sketched out in a recent paper by labor economist Joe Baker of the National Research Council's Office of Science and Engineering Personnel. Baker points to contradictory signals coming from the scientific community about future market conditions.

On the one hand, he says, there is the view that declining student interest in science, growing...

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