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The Economic Returns to U.S. Public Agricultural Research


  • Alston, Julian M.
  • Andersen, Matthew A.
  • James, Jennifer S.
  • Pardey, Philip G.


We use newly constructed state-specific data to explore the implications of common modeling choices for measures of research returns. Our results indicate that state-to-state spillover effects are important, that the R&D lag is longer than many studies have allowed, and that misspecification can give rise to significant biases. Across states, the average of the own-state benefit-cost ratios is 21:1; or 32:1 when the spillover benefits to other states are included. These ratios correspond to real internal rates of return of 9 or 10 percent per annum, much smaller than those typically reported in the literature, partly because we have corrected for a methodological flaw in computing rates of return.

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  • Alston, Julian M. & Andersen, Matthew A. & James, Jennifer S. & Pardey, Philip G., 2011. "The Economic Returns to U.S. Public Agricultural Research," Staff Papers 95522, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:umaesp:95522
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.95522

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