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

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

Abstract

Endowment payouts have become an increasingly important component of universities' revenues in recent decades. We test two leading theories of endowment payouts: (1) universities smooth endowment payouts, or (2) universities use endowments as self-insurance against financial shocks. In contrast to both theories, 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 with values 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, including personnel cuts.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Brown & Stephen G. Dimmock & Jun-Koo Kang & Scott Weisbenner, 2010. "How University Endowments Respond to Financial Market Shocks: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 15861, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15861
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ivo Welch & Amit Goyal, 2008. "A Comprehensive Look at The Empirical Performance of Equity Premium Prediction," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 21(4), pages 1455-1508, July.
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    3. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Jialan Wang, 2008. "Secrets of the Academy: The Drivers of University Endowment Success," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 207-222, Summer.
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    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Stephen G. Dimmock, 2012. "Background Risk and University Endowment Funds," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 789-799, August.
    8. Nichols, Donald A, 1974. "The Investment Income Formula of the American Economic Association," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 420-426, May.
    9. 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.
    10. Eisner, Robert, 1974. "Endowment Income, Capital Gains and Inflation Accounting: Discussion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 438-441, May.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. University endowment shocks and resource allocation
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-05-05 19:00:00

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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..
    3. Guasoni, Paolo & Huberman, Gur & Ren, Dan, 2014. "Shortfall Aversion," CEPR Discussion Papers 10064, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. repec:eee:jbrese:v:88:y:2018:i:c:p:443-448 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    16. 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.
    17. 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..
    18. Yan Lau & Harvey S. Rosen, 2015. "Are Universities Becoming More Unequal?," NBER Working Papers 21432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. 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..
    20. repec:eee:pubeco:v:156:y:2017:i:c:p:170-184 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Yan Lau & Harvey S. Rosen, 2015. "Are Universities Becoming More Unequal?," Working Papers 245, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    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:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • L3 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise

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