The Elasticity of Science

62 Pages Posted: 29 May 2018 Last revised: 8 Aug 2019

See all articles by Kyle Myers

Kyle Myers

Harvard University - Technology & Operations Management Unit

Date Written: August 1, 2019


This paper identifies the degree to which scientists are willing to change the direction of their work in exchange for resources. Data from the National Institutes of Health are used to estimate how scientists respond to targeted funding opportunities. Inducing a scientist to change their direction by a small amount – to work on marginally different topics – requires a substantial amount of funding in expectation. The switching costs of science are large. The productivity of grants is also estimated, and it appears the additional costs of targeted research may be more than offset by more productive scientists pursuing these grants.

Keywords: economics of science

JEL Classification: H50, I23, O31, O33, O38

Suggested Citation

Myers, Kyle, The Elasticity of Science (August 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Kyle Myers (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Technology & Operations Management Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States

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