Edward Glaeser, approving of Michael Bloomberg's plan to lure an applied science campus to New York City, expounds on the economic benefit a city enjoys from having a university in it:
More than 20 years ago, Adam Jaffe published an article that used patent data to show the links between universities and nearby companies. He found that corporations patented more in areas where nearby universities did more academic research.
In 2004, Enrico Moretti investigated the remarkable tendency of individual wages to be higher among people with more skilled neighbors and found that earnings were a lot higher in areas that had land-grant colleges, including theMassachusetts Institute of Technology before 1940. Albert Saiz and I later found that these old land-grant colleges were associated with population and income growth.
A Harvard graduate student whom I advise, Naomi Hausman, recently circulated a working paper showing the power of universities to support their local economies. The Bayh-Dole Act in 1980 enabled universities to patent innovations produced with federal funds, and this led to a surge of commercially relevant university patenting activity and, Ms. Hausman found, an explosion of related economic activity in nearby areas.
Meanwhile, Eric Cantor's speech on economic growth mainly consists of Republican dogma -- cut tax rates! less regulation! -- but does include this tantalizing nugget:
The Majority Leader seemed to favor a change in current immigration laws to allow more high-skilled workers the opportunity to work in the U.S.
Noting Congress's authority to "regulate entry into this country," Cantor suggested reforming the system, if doing so "helps us keep thousands of jobs here in America."
When you combine these two notions, you have the makings of a bipartisan economic growth strategy. You want to lure promising minds from across the world to the United States, mingle them together and allow great innovations to flourish. This policy lacks the "put money in the hands of rich people" punch that tends to attract Republican policymakers. But it doesn't really cost rich people anything, and the long-term benefits are quite large.