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Bombs, Brains, and Science: The Role of Human and Physical Capital for the Creation of Scientific Knowledge

Listed author(s):
  • Waldinger, Fabian

    (University of Warwick)

This paper analyzes the e¤ects of human capital (HC) and physical capital (PC) for the productivity of science departments. To address the endogeneity of input choices I use two extensive but temporary shocks to the HC and PC of science departments. As HC shock I use the dismissal of mostly Jewish scientists in Nazi Germany. As PC shock I use the destruction of facilities by Allied bombings during WWII. In the short run, a 10 percent to HC lowered departmental productivity by about 0.21sd. A 10 percent shock to PC lowered departmental productivity by about 0.05sd in the short run. While the HC shock persisted until the end of my sample period (1980), departments experiencing a PC shock recovered very quickly (by 1961). Additional results show that the dismissal ‘star scientists’was particularly detrimental, and that a fall in the quality of hires was an important mechanism for the persistence of the HC shock.

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Paper provided by Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) in its series CAGE Online Working Paper Series with number 78.

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Date of creation: 2012
Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:78
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  1. Pierre Azoulay & Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Gustavo Manso, 2011. "Incentives and creativity: evidence from the academic life sciences," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(3), pages 527-554, September.
  2. Steven Brakman & Harry Garretsen & Marc Schramm, 2004. "The strategic bombing of German cities during World War II and its impact on city growth," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 201-218, April.
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