The Education-Innovation Gap - Song Ma
Speaker : Song Ma (Yale School of Management)
This paper examines the diffusion of frontier knowledge through higher education courses. Using the text of 1.7 million college and university syllabi and 20 million articles published in top scientific journals since 1975, we construct a new measure: the “education-innovation gap,” defined as the ratio of textual similarities between each syllabus and (i) articles published 15 years before and (i) articles published 1 to 3 years before. We use this measure to document four findings. First, the gap varies substantially both across and within schools, with instructors accounting for 40 to 50 percent of the variation. Second, the gap is lower in schools that are more selective and serve fewer disadvantaged and minority students. Third, the gap decreases after the instructor of a course changes, and it is lower for courses taught by research-active faculty. Fourth, the gap is correlated with students’ graduation rates and incomes after graduation. These findings are robust to the use of alternative measures of course novelty.