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Education and Innovation: The Long Shadow of the Cultural Revolution

Zhangkai Huang, Gordon M. Phillips, Jialun Yang, Yi Zhang

NBER Working Paper No. 27107
Issued in May 2020
NBER Program(s):Corporate Finance, Political Economy

The Cultural Revolution deprived Chinese students of the opportunity to receive higher education for 10 years when colleges and universities were closed from 1966-1976. We examine the human capital cost of this loss of education on subsequent innovation by firms, and ask if it impacted firms more than 30 years later. We examine the innovation of firms with CEOs who turned 18 during the Cultural Revolution, which sharply reduced their chances of attending college. Using multiple approaches to control for selection and endogeneity, including an instrument based on whether the CEO turned 18 during the Cultural Revolution and a regression discontinuity approach, we show that Chinese firms led by CEOs without a college degree spend less on R&D, generate fewer patents, and receive fewer citations to these patents.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27107

 
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