Does Research Save Lives? The Local Spillovers of Biomedical Research on Mortality
This paper investigates the local impact of biomedical research on mortality in the USA. Causally estimating the marginal value of biomedical research is challenging due to a lack of micro data linking health outcomes to plausibly exogenous variation in research. We create a new linkage between a research database (PubMed) and administrative death records that enables research to be related to mortality at the geographic, disease and time level. We then estimate the marginal impact of biomedical research on mortality using hospital market (HRR) level shocks to research activity by disease. Our identification strategy builds on the literature on the dissemination of knowledge, specifically that of local knowledge spillovers. By utilizing variation across diseases, time and distance from research we control for additional trends relative to the current literature. Our results show that an additional research publication on average reduces local mortality from a disease by 0.35%. Our results also provide novel evidence that there are health benefits to the local communities (local spillovers) in which biomedical research is conducted.