This Website uses cookies. By using this website you are agreeing to our use of cookies and to the terms and conditions listed in our data protection policy. Read more

Working Paper No. 1399

Ballooning Bureaucracy? Stylized Facts of Growing Administration in Swedish Higher Education

Working Paper
Andersson, Fredrik W., Henrik Jordahl and Anders Kärnä (2021). “Ballooning Bureaucracy? Stylized Facts of Growing Administration in Swedish Higher Education”. IFN Working Paper No. 1399. Stockholm: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN).

Fredrik W. Andersson, Henrik Jordahl, Anders Kärnä

All organizations need to allocate labor to production and administration. In many cases – particularly within the public sector – the optimal allocation is far from obvious. Indeed, vocal concerns have been raised about the administrative burden in several public services, not least in education.

We investigate this issue using detailed registry data on all employees at Swedish universities and colleges from 2005 to 2019 and document three stylized facts. First, the group of highly educated administrators has grown rapidly, almost by a factor of seven compared with teachers and researchers. Second, the number of less-educated administrators has stayed flat. Third, the time that teachers and researchers spend on administrative tasks has been roughly constant over time. This indicates that resources have been diverted from teaching and research and raises fears of excessive administrative growth in Swedish higher education.