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How University Endowments Respond to Financial Market Shocks: Evidence and Implications

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  • Jeffrey R. Brown
  • Stephen G. Dimmock
  • Jun-Koo Kang
  • Scott J. Weisbenner

Abstract

Endowment payouts have become an increasingly important component of universities' revenues in recent decades. We study how universities respond to financial shocks to endowments and thus shed light on a number of existing models of endowment behavior. Endowments actively reduce payouts relative to their stated payout policies following negative, but not positive, shocks. This asymmetric behavior is consistent with "endowment hoarding," especially among endowments whose current value is close to the benchmark value at the start of the university president's tenure. We also document the effect of negative endowment shocks on university operations, such as personnel cuts.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey R. Brown & Stephen G. Dimmock & Jun-Koo Kang & Scott J. Weisbenner, 2014. "How University Endowments Respond to Financial Market Shocks: Evidence and Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 931-962, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:3:p:931-62
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.3.931
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Gordon C. Winston, 1999. "Subsidies, Hierarchy and Peers: The Awkward Economics of Higher Education," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 13-36, Winter.
    7. Core, John E. & Guay, Wayne R. & Verdi, Rodrigo S., 2006. "Agency problems of excess endowment holdings in not-for-profit firms," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 307-333, September.
    8. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stephen Satchell & Susan Thorp & Oliver Williams, 2012. "Estimating Consumption Plans for Recursive Utility by Maximum Entropy Methods," Research Paper Series 300, Quantitative Finance Research Centre, University of Technology, Sydney.
    2. Erik E. Lehmann & Michele Meoli & Stefano Paleari & Sarah A. E. Stockinger, 2018. "Approaching effects of the economic crisis on university efficiency: a comparative study of Germany and Italy," Eurasian Business Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 8(1), pages 37-54, March.
    3. Harvey S. Rosen & Alexander J.W. Sappington, 2016. "To Borrow or Not to Borrow? An Analysis of University Leverage Decisions," Working Papers 249, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    4. Harvey S. Rosen & Alexander J. W. Sappington, 2016. "To Borrow or Not to Borrow? An Analysis of University Leverage Decisions," NBER Working Papers 21951, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. David Chambers & Elroy Dimson & Justin Foo, 2013. "Keynes, King's, and Endowment Asset Management," NBER Chapters,in: How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education, pages 127-150 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. David Dranove & Craig Garthwaite & Christopher Ody, 2013. "How do Hospitals Respond to Negative Financial Shocks? The Impact of the 2008 Stock Market Crash," NBER Working Papers 18853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Guasoni, Paolo & Huberman, Gur & Ren, Dan, 2014. "Shortfall Aversion," CEPR Discussion Papers 10064, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. 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, pages 151-174 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. 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, pages 43-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Cheslock, John J. & Callie, Trina M., 2015. "Changing salary structure and faculty composition within business schools: Differences across sectors and state funding levels," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 42-54.
    11. Harvey S. Rosen & Alexander J. W. Sappington, 2015. "What Do University Endowment Managers Worry About? An Analysis of Alternative Asset Investments and Background Income," NBER Working Papers 21271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Harvey S. Rosen & Alexander J.W. Sappington, 2015. "What Do University Endowment Managers Worry About? An Analysis of Alternative Asset Investments and Background Income," Working Papers 244, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    13. Yan Lau & Harvey S. Rosen, 2015. "Are Universities Becoming More Unequal?," NBER Working Papers 21432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Rosen, Harvey S. & Sappington, Alexander J.W., 2016. "To borrow or not to borrow? An analysis of university leverage decisions," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 170-185.
    15. 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, pages 15-41 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Harvey S. Rosen & Alexander J. W. Sappington, 2016. "Impact of Endowment Shocks on Payouts," Working Papers 250, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    17. repec:eee:pubeco:v:156:y:2017:i:c:p:170-184 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Harvey S. Rosen & Alexander J. W. Sappington, 2016. "What Do University Endowment Managers Worry About? An Analysis of Alternative Asset Investments and Background Income," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(4), pages 404-425, Fall.
    19. Yan Lau & Harvey S. Rosen, 2015. "Are Universities Becoming More Unequal?," Working Papers 245, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    20. 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.
    21. repec:eee:jbrese:v:88:y:2018:i:c:p:443-448 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. David Yermack, 2015. "Donor Governance and Financial Management in Prominent U.S. Art Museums," NBER Working Papers 21066, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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