recent research

Cohorts and other strategies to help individuals from underrepresented groups graduate with STEM degrees

While diversity plays a critical role in both improving the quality and increasing the rate of innovation, women and several minority groups remain underrepresented in STEM fields. Several studies find that improving the retention rate of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM at the college level can have significant impacts on improving the diversity and representativeness of the STEM workforce. For women and other underrepresented groups, the college experience can create unique roadblocks and barriers that ultimately cause them to switch majors or even leave college. Several recent studies have examined strategies to improve the retention rate of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM degrees at institution of higher education. The strategies range from pre-college STEM academies to establishing cohorts of underrepresented students.

Recent Research: Close look at manufacturing helps shape policy and practice

Last week, SSTI highlighted the recently released issue of the Economic Development Quarterly where three pieces stand out for their relevance to practitioners and policymakers. This article takes a look at how academic research can inform three common strategies for strengthening the manufacturing sector and encouraging regional economic development: targeting industry clusters, leveraging manufacturing extension services, and promoting workforce development.

Accelerators help improve efficiency of startup capital

Over the last decade, accelerators have spread from a Silicon Valley phenomenon to communities across the country. Questions, however, remain on their impact on startups and whether they aid in creating a strong startup ecosystem.

Recent Research: Auditing NIH-funded studies would improve reproducibility of scientific research

Approximately 30.2 percent of NIH-funded research studies produce false positive results that make those studies not replicable by other researchers, according to a recent study from researchers at Queensland University of Technology (AU). The authors of the study contend that the reproducibility crisis is driven by “publish or perish” incentives to increase the quantity of their papers at the cost of quality.

Recent Research: Federal R&D boosts local economic development

The boost in federal R&D funds as a result of the 2009 stimulus package had a significant impact on local economic development, according to a new working paper from researchers at the University of Michigan. In “Local Fiscal Multiplier on R&D and Science Spending: Evidence from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), authors Yulia Chhabra, Margaret Levenstein, and Jason Owen-Smith look at changes in county-level employment in response to increased federal spending on R&D as a result of ARRA. The authors estimate causal effects of the ARRA R&D funding on local economic development, and find that, all else equal, every $1 million in new R&D spending due to the stimulus in a county led to 27 new jobs, with 25 of those being in the private sector. The authors estimate that the cost per each job-year was about $15,000, which is less than the reported costs of other types of federal stimulus programs.

Regardless of their jobs, scientists and engineers increase employers’ productivity

The conclusion from the working paper, The Effects of Scientists and Engineers on Productivity and Earnings at the Establishment Where They Work, by Erling Barth, James C. Davis, Richard B. Freeman, and Andrew J. Wang, is pretty clear for manufacturers and policy advocates for improving U.S. manufacturing: firms should hire as many scientists and engineers as possible.  The research finds, Morgan Foy explains in an NBER Digest article, that occupational statistics reveal approximately 80 percent of people trained as scientists and engineers do not work in R&D jobs.  Filling a company’s payroll with as many of these people, regardless of their position, seems to pay off. The authors’ research concluded a 10 percent increase in the proportion of scientist and engineer employment within a manufacturing establishment was associated with a 4 percent increase in total factor productivity for the firm.

Recent Research: Meaningful results from R&D becoming more costly

Congress so far has ignored administration budget requests that call for reducing U.S. investment in research and development.  Science and innovation advocates interpret the legislative branch’s decision as good for many reasons. Authors Nicholas Bloom, Charles I. Jones, John Van Reenen, and Michael Webb add another reason in their NBER working paper Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find? They find U.S.

Recent Research: industry and labor concentration findings challenge current thoughts on policy solutions

Several recent articles covered in the National Bureau of Economic Researchers (NBER) Digest suggest that current understanding of policies surrounding wages, clusters and labor concentration may warrant revisiting. In one piece of academic research, a historical argument of shared productivity gains with employees is challenged, while another article shows a loss of bargaining power for employees in concentrated labor markets.

Industry consolidation slowing wage growth, productivity

Recent Research: Inequality hinders regional economic development

While the increasing gaps between the coasts and the heartland continues to capture the media’s attention, a collection of recent research suggests that inequality within regions may be the greatest factor hampering economic growth. Five recent articles tell a nuanced story of how economic and racial inequities may impede regional economic development efforts. The research presented here from a variety of outlets examines the role of inequality in the overall economy of regions.

Commentary: Coping with Adversity and regional economic resilience

One of this year’s most important books on economic development tells a story that those involved in the field need to know and might not necessarily want to hear. In Coping with Adversity: Regional Economic Resilience and Public Policy, authors Harold Wolman, Howard Wial, Travis St. Clair, and Ned Hill seek to understand why some metropolitan areas are resilient in the face of economic hardship, while others are not. This commentary will summarize the authors’ findings and provide insight into what their findings might mean for the broader economic development community.


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