The Elasticity of Science
- American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (Forthcoming)
This paper identifies the degree to which scientists are willing to change the direction
of their work in exchange for resources. Data from the National Institutes of
Health are used to estimate how scientists respond to targeted funding opportunities.
Inducing a scientist to change their direction by a small amount–to work on marginally
different topics–requires a substantial amount of funding in expectation. The switching
costs of science are large. The productivity of grants is also estimated, and it appears
the additional costs of targeted research may be more than offset by more productive
scientists pursuing these grants.
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