recent research

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.

Recent Research: Could a lottery system for grant funding lead to better outcomes?

Last year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) considered multiple strategies to address the implicit bias toward researchers with ‘proven track records’ during its existing grant making process. While previous research studies have found similar concerns about the current grant making process, two recent studies from the University of Cambridge propose that grant-making organizations consider implementing a lottery system to allocate grant awards to alleviate bias and improve outcomes.  

Recent Research: Student involvement overlooked in university entrepreneurship efforts

While conventional wisdom suggests that university entrepreneurship efforts should focus on faculty spinoffs or student inventions, recent research highlights the importance of student talent in entrepreneurial ecosystems. In an effort to create employment opportunities in the startup space, several universities throughout the country are implementing programs that embed students into their local startup communities.  

Recent Research: Exploring where the workers have gone

An earlier SSTI analysis detailed the Bureau of Labor Statistics labor force participation projections, revealing a continuing downward trend in the number of workers despite a growing population. Additional research papers released in February from economists at the University of Maryland as well as the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank explores the reasons behind the trend, finding that trade and robots have had a significant impact, and suggests that some prime-age workers may not be coming back.

Mentoring programs explored to find best practices

Mentoring programs may be celebrated across the nation as January marks National Mentoring Month, a movement started in 2002 to raise awareness of mentoring in all its forms. But more could be done to make programs more effective in both university and non-university settings, according to a recent working paper from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Mentoring in Startup Ecosystems, by Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, et al, found that mentoring is fundamental to founder education, but that such programs could be improved, especially at universities.

Recent Research: Strategies for connecting communities to the innovation economy

The final part of this series explores the tactics and strategies associated with increasing exposure to innovation and broadening economic opportunity.

Last week, The Digest explored recent research examining the role that exposure to innovation plays in determining future inventiveness. The study’s authors, led by Stanford’s Raj Chetty, find that a child’s characteristics at birth – their neighborhood, socioeconomic class, race, and gender – are highly predictive of their propensity to file a patent later on in life. Based on their results, the authors recommend strategies that focus on increasing exposure to innovation and broadening intergenerational economic mobility. This article explores these types of policies in depth, as well as additional tactics that may help reconnect America’s communities with greater economic opportunity.

Recent Research: Broadening economic opportunity to support American innovation

This article is part one of a two part series focused on the intersection between economic opportunity and the economic development practice.  

A lack of economic opportunity could threaten American innovation, according to new research from Stanford economist Raj Chetty and other members of the Equality of Opportunity Project. The authors advocate that in light of empirical research showing the worsening effects of economic segregation and inequality, the economic development community needs to support new strategies and tactics that can deliver “realistic economic opportunity” to more communities across the country. If the future of American inventiveness depends on place-based economic opportunity and exposure to innovation as the study suggests, troubling times may lie ahead.

VC-backed startups help support vibrant innovation ecosystems, research finds

Venture-backed startups generate nine times the knowledge spillovers (e.g., patenting activity and citations) when compared to that produced by R&D investment of established companies, according to recent research. In Measuring the Spillovers of Venture Capital, researchers from the University of Munich found that, on average, two-thirds of this increase can be traced to more patenting by other companies within the VC-backed company’s spillover pool (e.g., companies with geographic or industry proximity). The companies that most benefited from the knowledge spillover were large, established companies.

Recent Research: Making the case for more economic dynamism

By its very nature, economic dynamism can unsettle local economies. As businesses dissolve, jobs are lost. Technological shifts can drastically alter – or even replace – companies, occupations and entire industries. As these ripple effects move throughout communities, it is easy to focus on the negative impacts, but this loses sight of the importance dynamism has on national economic health. Recent research highlights the significance of dynamism to individual, state, and national economic well-being, as well as a potential paradox: while many Americans are concerned with too much economic dynamism, research shows that the nation needs more of it, not less.


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