How Do Institutions of Higher Education Affect Local Invention? Evidence from the Establishment of U.S. Colleges
107 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2017 Last revised: 29 May 2019
Date Written: May 14, 2019
I use data on site selection decisions for a subset of U.S. colleges to identify "runner-up" locations that were strongly considered to become the sites of new colleges but were ultimately not chosen for reasons as good as random assignment. Using the runner-up counties as counterfactuals, I find that establishing a new college causes 45% more patents per year. Controlling for county population explains most of the observed increase. Linking the patent record to a novel dataset of college yearbooks reveals that only 12% of patents in a college's county come from individuals directly affiliated with that college as either alumni or faculty. College counties do not appear to attract especially skilled migrants. I find statistically indistinguishable differences in patenting between locations that establish colleges and locations that establish other types of institutions, as well as between colleges that are more and less focused on technical fields.
Keywords: Innovation, Patents, Economic History, Education, Colleges
JEL Classification: I, N, O, R
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation