The Education-Innovation Gap

81 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2022 Last revised: 12 May 2023

See all articles by Barbara Biasi

Barbara Biasi

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Song Ma

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: March 2022

Abstract

This paper studies the dissemination of frontier knowledge through higher education. Applying natural language processing (NLP) techniques to the text of 1.7M university course syllabi and 20M academic articles, we construct the “education-innovation gap,” a measure of a syllabus’s distance from frontier knowledge. Using this measure, we document four new facts. First, courses differ greatly in their education-innovation gap, even after controlling for field, course-level, and time. Second, instructors play an important role in shaping course content. Research-active instructors teach more frontier knowledge, particularly when their research is close to the course topic. Third, access to frontier knowledge is unequal: Schools enrolling more socio-economically advantaged students offer courses with a lower gap. Lastly, students from lower-gap schools are more likely to complete a doctoral degree, produce more patents, and earn more after graduation.

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Suggested Citation

Biasi, Barbara and Ma, Song, The Education-Innovation Gap (March 2022). NBER Working Paper No. w29853, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4062404

Barbara Biasi (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Song Ma

Yale School of Management ( email )

165 Whitney Ave
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.som.yale.edu/songma/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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