NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Local Effects of Land Grant Colleges on Agricultural Innovation and Output

Michael J. Andrews

NBER Working Paper No. 26235
Issued in September 2019
NBER Program(s):The Program on the Development of the American Economy, The Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26235

 
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