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Does the Technological Content of Government Demand Matter for Private R&D? Evidence from US States

Governments purchase everything from airplanes to zucchini. This paper investigates the role of the technological content of government procurement in innovation. We theoretically show that a shift in the composition of public purchases toward high-tech products translates into higher economy-wide returns to innovation, leading to an increase in the aggregate level of private research and development (R&D). Collecting unique panel data on federal procurement in US states, we find that reshuffling procurement toward high-tech industries has an economically and statistically significant positive effect on private R&D, even after extensively controlling for other R&D determinants. Instrumental-variable estimations support a causal interpretation of our findings.

02. September 2014

Authors Viktor Slavtchev S. Wiederhold

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Does the Technological Content of Government Demand Matter for Private R&D? Evidence from US States

Viktor Slavtchev S. Wiederhold

in: American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics , No. 2, 2016

Abstract

Governments purchase everything from airplanes to zucchini. This paper investigates the role of the technological content of government procurement in innovation. In a theoretical model, we first show that a shift in the composition of public purchases toward high-tech products translates into higher economy-wide returns to innovation, leading to an increase in the aggregate level of private R&D. Using unique data on federal procurement in US states and performing panel fixed-effects estimations, we find support for the model's prediction of a positive R&D effect of the technological content of government procurement. Instrumental-variable estimations suggest a causal interpretation of our findings.

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