Local Effects of Land Grant Colleges on Agricultural Innovation and Output
To estimate the local effect of establishing land grant colleges, I compare locations that receive a land grant college to "runner-up" counties that were in contention to receive the land grant but did not for as-good-as-random reasons. I find that establishing a land grant college causes an increase in local invention, including in particular agricultural inventions, in college counties relative to the runner-up counties. But land grant college counties see only small and imprecisely estimated improvements in agricultural performance, measured by yield and output, relative to runner-up counties. I discuss
several alternative interpretations of these findings. By comparing the establishment of land grant colleges to non-land grant colleges, I show that land grants appear to cause smaller increases in local invention, population, and agricultural output, but larger increases in agricultural yields and new crop varieties. The effect of land grant colleges on local innovations is largest, even relative to non-land grant colleges, following the passage of legislation that increases funding to agricultural research.
I thank the NBER for financial support. I am very grateful to participants at the NBER conference ``The Economics of Research and Innovation in Agriculture,'' especially to my discussant Bhaven Sampat, to Shawn Kantor and Alex Whalley for sharing data, and to Jeff Furman and Nicolas Ziebarth for thoughtful comments. All errors are my own. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.