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University Innovation, Local Economic Growth, and Entrepreneurship

  • Naomi Hausman

Universities, often situated at the center of innovative clusters, are believed to be important drivers of local economic growth. This paper identifies the extent to which U.S. universities stimulate nearby economic activity using the interaction of a national shock to the spread of innovation from universities - the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 - with pre-determined variation both within a university in academic strengths and across universities in federal research funding. Using longitudinal establishment-level data from the Census, I find that longrun employment and payroll per worker around universities rise particularly rapidly after Bayh-Dole in industries more closely related to local university innovative strengths. The impact of university innovation increases with geographic proximity to the university. Counties surrounding universities that received more pre-Bayh-Dole federal funding - particularly from the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health - experienced faster employment growth after the law. Entering establishments - in particular multi-unit firm expansions - over the period from 1977 to 1997 were especially important in generating long-run employment growth, while incumbents experienced modest declines, consistent with creative destruction. Suggestive of their complementarities with universities, large establishments contributed more substantially to the total 20-year growth effect than did small establishments.

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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 12-10.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:12-10
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