Land of Four Thousand Archaeologists
It struck me the other day that these bibliographies allow one to estimate how many archaeologists Sweden has produced since the 1940s, assuming a BA or MA in the subject as a prerequisite for the moniker. I’m interested in this because of my strong opinions on the high unemployment rate in the profession. This is to my mind a result of a university system that strives to maximize student throughput and teacher employment rates without any view to whether the kids learn anything that might help them have a subsequent career.
There are sources of error: some theses may have been missed, and some people are listed both for their BA and their MA theses. But we should be able to see the order of magnitude. Let’s just look at theses in Scandinavian archaeology, which are the ones written by people who hope to work as archaeologists in Sweden.
For the period 1950-2003, the bibliographies list 4371 theses. They document decades of slow growth, and then a dramatic peak in the 1990s, when on average 87 theses where written each year only about the Iron Age. There is then an encouraging slump for 2000-2003, with an annual average of 63 Iron Age theses. Nevertheless, there must be thousands of people with archaeology BAs or MAs in the country, most of whom are not yet past retirement age. And believe me, there are not thousands of archaeology jobs: there may be two or three hundred. So it seems that in recent years, Sweden has had an overproduction of archaeologists on a rough scale of 10:1. Though the application numbers to recent jobs are more like 90:1.
I say, let's put a few tens of archaeology teachers on the dole, thereby stopping the university system from providing hundreds of unexperienced kids each year with a career path leading to unemployment.
[More blog entries about archaeology, Sweden, career, unemployment; arkeologi, karriär, arbetslöshet.]