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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Jialan Wang, 2008. "Secrets of the Academy: The Drivers of University Endowment Success," NBER Working Papers 14341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14341 Note: CF
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Steven N. Kaplan & Antoinette Schoar, 2005. "Private Equity Performance: Returns, Persistence, and Capital Flows," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(4), pages 1791-1823, August.
    3. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Wan Wongsunwai, 2007. "Smart Institutions, Foolish Choices: The Limited Partner Performance Puzzle," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(2), pages 731-764, April.
    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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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • L3 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise

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