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. 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.