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Secrets of the Academy: The Drivers of University Endowment Success

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  • Josh Lerner
  • Antoinette Schoar
  • Jialan Wang

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.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14341.

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Date of creation: Sep 2008
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Publication status: 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14341

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  1. Kaplan, Steve & Schoar, Antoinette, 2004. "Private Equity Performance: Returns, Persistence and Capital Flows," Working papers 4446-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  2. Gompers, Paul & Lerner, Josh, 2000. "Money chasing deals? The impact of fund inflows on private equity valuation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 281-325, February.
  3. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Wan Wong, 2005. "Smart Institutions, Foolish Choices? The Limited Partner Performance Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 11136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Alexander Ljungqvist & Matthew Richardson & Daniel Wolfenzon, 2008. "The Investment Behavior of Buyout Funds: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 14180, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Jakub W. Jurek & Erik Stafford, 2013. "The Cost of Capital for Alternative Investments," NBER Working Papers 19643, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jeffrey R. Brown & Stephen G. Dimmock & Scott Weisbenner, 2012. "The Supply of and Demand for Charitable Donations to Higher Education," NBER Chapters, in: How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Keith Brown & Cristian Tiu, 2013. "The Interaction of Spending Policies, Asset Allocation Strategies, and Investment Performance at University Endowment Funds," NBER Working Papers 19517, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Keith C. Brown & Cristian Ioan Tiu, 2013. "The Interaction of Spending Policies, Asset Allocation Strategies, and Investment Performance at University Endowment Funds," NBER Chapters, in: How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. William N. Goetzmann & Sharon Oster, 2013. "Competition Among University Endowments," NBER Chapters, in: How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2013. "Endowment Management Based on a Positive Model of the University," NBER Chapters, in: How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Brown, Keith C. & Garlappi, Lorenzo & Tiu, Cristian, 2010. "Asset allocation and portfolio performance: Evidence from university endowment funds," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 268-294, May.
  8. Shawn Kantor & Alexander Whalley, 2009. "Do Universities Generate Agglomeration Spillovers? Evidence from Endowment Value Shocks," NBER Working Papers 15299, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Wolfgang Bessler & Julian Holler & Philipp Kurmann, 2012. "Hedge funds and optimal asset allocation: Bayesian expectations and spanning tests," Financial Markets and Portfolio Management, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 109-141, March.
  10. Sensoy, Berk A. & Wang, Yingdi & Weisbach, Michael S., 2013. "Limited Partner Performance and the Maturing of the Private Equity Industry," Working Paper Series 2013-01, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  11. Hege, Ulrich & Nuti, Alessandro, 2011. "The Private Equity Secondaries Market During the Financial Crisis and the “Valuation Gap”," MPRA Paper 39550, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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