Look at the placement data over the past 2-3 years of the macro students specifically and see which is better. That'd be a good enough metric.
I have been accepted to both, and as my name suggests, I am interested in macro-labor. I know that Wisconsin is higher ranked overall, but I have a sense that UT-Austin is improving (recent hires) and has strong macro-labor faculty as well.
Thoughts on which program is better for PhD students (faculty, culture, placement, etc)? Or is Wisconsin clearly the better choice because it is closer to the top 10? This is a very new experience for me, so any insight is helpful. Thanks!
I think Wisconsin strictly dominates UT-Austin for labor overall but UT-Austin is almost competitive for those particularly interested in macro labor (Sahin is at UT-Austin).
This is to say that I feel very confident that you will specialize in macro labor, I think this is a tough call. If you like labor more generally, I do not think it is tough.
Being advised by Sahin would be awesome. She is a spectacular scholar.
As someone else going through admissions this cycle, there's nothing someone else can tell you about what school to go to. Yes, outside opinions matter, but at the end of the day it's the strength of your job market paper and your research pipeline that gets you a job. To reach your potential as a scholar you need to go somewhere that fits your interests and has people who are willing to invest their time in your work.
Contact each program, remind them what you're interested in, and speak to people who would be potential advisors. See if they think your ideas are interesting! Ask them about the work of their current advisees to see how involved they are as a mentor. After that, ask to be put in touch with thesis writers so you can ask them if they've felt supported by the program during their post-coursework years! Of course placements matter, but remember that where someone ended up isn't necessarily their best offer.
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