The increasing stratification of faculty employment at colleges and universities in the United States

Liang Zhang, Ronald Ehrenberg, Xiangmin Liu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


We use panel data models to examine variations and changes in faculty employment at four-year colleges and universities in the United States. The share of part-time faculty among total faculty has continued to grow during the last two decades, while the share of full-time lecturers and instructors has been relatively stable. Meanwhile, the share of nontenure track faculty among full-time faculty has been growing, especially among the professorial ranks. Dynamic panel data models suggest that employment levels of different types of faculty respond to a variety of economic and institutional factors. Colleges and universities have increasingly employed faculty whose salaries and benefits are relatively inexpensive; the slowly deteriorating financial situations at most colleges and universities have led to an increasing reliance on a contingent academic workforce. A cross-sectional comparison of the share of full-time nontenure track faculty also reveals significant variations across institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Industrial and Labor Relations
PublisherEmerald Group Holdings Ltd.
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Industrial and Labor Relations
ISSN (Print)0742-6186


  • Academic profession
  • Contingent employment
  • Dynamic panel data model
  • Faculty employment
  • Higher education
  • Part-time faculty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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