Working Papers

"Estimating Spillovers from Publicly Funded R&D: Evidence from the

US Department of Energy"

with Lauren Lanahan 

American Economic Review (conditionally accepted)

Download working paper [Last revised: November 2021]

The spillovers from public R&D grants are large and reach far across geographic and technological space, and focusing only on firms that directly receive grants causes you to miss a lot of what's going on.

"How Important is Editorial Gatekeeping? Evidence from Top Biomedical Journals"

with Joshua Krieger and Ariel Stern 

Download working paper [Last revised: September 2021]

Major biomedical journals tend to publish papers on the same scientific topics that their editors studied, but this effect likely plays a very small role in the publishing process.

"No Free Lunch? Welfare Analysis of Firms Selling Through Expert Intermediaries"

with Matt Grennan, Ashley Swanson, and Aaron Chatterji

Under revision [Under revision: March 2021]

Drug firms take certain doctors out to lunch and this influences prescriptions, and we figure out when this is good or bad. In the case we study -- cholesterol-lowering statins -- it seems like it's good for consumers because they'd otherwise use too little.​

Published Papers

"Potentially Long-lasting Effects of the Pandemic on Scientists"

with Jian Gao, Yian Yin, Karim Lakhani, and Dashun Wang

Nature Communications (2021), 12, 6188.

View published version

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant decline in the number of "new" research projects initiated by academic researchers.

"The Elasticity of Science"

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (2020), 12(4), 103–134.

Download final working paper [Last revised: August 2019]

View published version

The adjustment costs of science -- getting scientists to study what you want them to -- are large, very large!

Coverage: blog postinterview.

"Unequal Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Scientists"

with Wei Yang Tham, Yian Yin, Nina Cohodes, Jerry Thursby, Marie Thursby, Peter Schiffer, Joseph Walsh, Karim Lakhani, and Dashun Wang 

Nature Human Behaviour (2020), 4, 880–883.

Download final working paper [Last revised: June 2020]

View published version 

Scientists experienced a wide range of disruptions to their work in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the largest declines amongst those in the "bench sciences," female scientists, and researchers with young children at home.

Coverage: news, news, news.

"Endogenous Productivity of Demand-Induced R&D: Evidence from Pharmaceuticals"

with Mark Pauly

RAND Journal of Economics (2019), 50(3), 591–614.

Download final working paper [Last revised: January 2019]

View published version

When people want more new drugs, firms are happy to invest in ideas that cost more. And as we run out of "low hanging fruit" while demand keeps growing, R&D costs will naturally grow.



Other Writing

"Which Scientists Shifted their Research Focus to the COVID-19 Pandemic?"

Download paper [Last revised: October 2020]

The adjustment costs of science played an important role in shaping which scientists decided to shift the focus of their research to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Towards recovery: Scientists with better ratings of their institution’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic have more optimistic forecasts about their future research"

with Karim Lakhani and Dashun Wang 

Download paper [Last revised: October 2020]

We show how scientists’ forecasts of pandemic-related disruptions to their research depend on the eventual length of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientists that think approve of their institution’s response to the pandemic have more optimistic forecasts, even when controlling for their current level of disruptions.

"Pharmaceutical Trends, Not What They Seem"

with Mark Pauly

In Managing Discovery in the Life Sciences, eds. Philip Rea, Mark Pauly, and Lawton Burns, pp. 18-42. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

"The Direction of Biomedical Science"

Prepared for the NBER-IFS International Network on the Value of Medical Research (See more here).

Download paper

How should the allocation of science in the economy be determined? How do scientists choose to pursue different types of trajectories? How do public policies influence these macro- and micro-level outcomes? This survey outlines longstanding questions and recent research surrounding the economics of science with a focus on biomedical research.