Study Shows Immediate Economic Impact of Scientific Research

Washington, D.C. – A study looking at the short-term economic impact of federal dollars earmarked for university research finds that less than 20 percent is spent on faculty, with much of the funding used to purchase goods and services from small businesses nationwide. The results appear in the April 4, 2014 issue of Science.

The study was conducted by researchers at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, University of Michigan, University of Chicago and the Ohio State University. The data is drawn from the STAR METRICS project, which is a partnership between federal science agencies and research institutions to document the outcomes of science investments to the public.

Researchers examined data from nine universities – Michigan, Wisconsin-Madison, Minnesota, Ohio State, Northwestern, Purdue, Michigan State, Chicago and Indiana (all members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation consortium). The federal government provided more than half of the $7 billion in research and development funding the universities received in 2012.

The experts found research funding was used to purchase a wide range of goods and services. About 30 percent of the money was spent within the home state of each university with the rest going to businesses based elsewhere in the United States.

Dr. Julia Lane, an AIR economist and one of the lead authors, noted that, “This data provides the first detailed information about the initial inputs to and activities of the publicly funded scientific enterprise and can be used to lay the foundation to trace subsequent results.”

More information, including a copy of the paper, can be found online at the Science press package: A user ID and password is needed for access.

About AIR 
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity. For more information, visit


Media Contact

Dana Tofig

Managing Director, Corporate Communications