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The Economic Impact of Universities: Evidence from Across the Globe

Anna Valero and John van Reenen ()

No 11462, CEPR Discussion Papers from C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers

Abstract: We develop a new dataset using UNESCO source materials on the location of nearly 15,000 universities in about 1,500 regions across 78 countries, some dating back to the 11th Century. We estimate fixed effects models at the sub-national level between 1950 and 2010 and find that increases in the number of universities are positively associated with future growth of GDP per capita (and this relationship is robust to controlling for a host of observables, as well as unobserved regional trends). Our estimates imply that doubling the number of universities per capita is associated with 4% higher future GDP per capita. Furthermore, there appear to be positive spillover effects from universities to geographically close neighboring regions. We show that the relationship between growth and universities is not simply driven by the direct expenditures of the university, its staff and students. Part of the effect of universities on growth is mediated through an increased supply of human capital and greater innovation (although the magnitudes are not large). We find that within countries, higher historical university presence is associated with stronger pro-democratic attitudes.

Keywords: growth; Human Capital; innovation; Universities (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I23 I25 J24 O10 O31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu, nep-geo, nep-gro, nep-his, nep-ino and nep-tid
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Related works:
Journal Article: The economic impact of universities: Evidence from across the globe (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: The economic impact of universities: evidence from across the globe (2018) Downloads
Working Paper: The economic impact of universities: evidence from across the globe (2016) Downloads
Working Paper: The economic impact of universities: evidence from across the globe (2016) Downloads
Working Paper: The Economic Impact of Universities: Evidence from Across the Globe (2016) Downloads
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