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Scientists create new knowledge by building on existing knowledge. But universities in developing countries often cannot afford subscriptions to all available scientific journals. To address this problem, the United Nations Environment Programme and Yale University launched an initiative in October 2006 that provides online access to 5,700 peer-reviewed environmental science academic journals for universities in more than 100 developing countries.
Economists from the University of Munich analyzed the impact that the initiative has had on the output of new scientific publications in five developing countries—Kenya, Nigeria, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. Their data covered publication output from 2000 to 2012, thereby accounting for scientists’ productivity before and after the program launched. The economists’ analysis finds that the initiative accounted for a 43 percent average increase in environmental science-related university publications.