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Secrets of the Academy: The Drivers of University Endowment Success

Josh Lerner (), Antoinette Schoar () and Jialan Wang ()

No 14341, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: In recent years, university endowments have received much attention for their spectacular returns and innovative investment strategies, but few papers have examined trends in the endowment sector at large. In this paper, we analyze a sample of 1,300 educational endowments between 1992 and 2005. A striking phenomenon emerges of the "rich getting richer", a dramatic widening of the size gap between the largest endowments, led by the Ivy League, and the average endowment. Growth in endowment size has been driven largely by high investment returns, which are in turn related to the quality of the student body and the use of alternative assets. Elite endowments seem to benefit not only from economies of scale in investment management, but genuine skill and expertise in choosing the right investments at the right times.

JEL-codes: G11 L3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu
Date: 2008-09
Note: CF
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Published as Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Jialan Wang, 2008. "Secrets of the Academy: The Drivers of University Endowment Success," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 207-22, Summer.

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