This is the ratio of BA majors to faculty in private universities with ranked programs:
The graph comes from a new article in the JEP by William Johnson and Sarah Turner. Political Science seems to be the big outlier, with economics and psych not far behind.
The meshes with my experience: poli sci has become the largest major at Yale (even more so since the crisis) and we cannot hire fast enough–almost 8 junior faculty offers per year for at least three years.
Part of the explanation could be that econ, psych and poli sci are more easily taught to large groups (i.e. a more efficient technology) but I find that hard to believe.
The authors find some evidence that it’s because econ professors are more expensive:
But here again we see the poli sci outlier.
The whole paper is good. Their conclusion: it’s all politics.
All the more reason for so many new political scientists?