Fact of the Week: Chinese Firms Led By A CEO Without A College Degree File 28 Percent Fewer Patent Applications

Caleb Foote June 15, 2020
June 15, 2020

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Source: Zhangkai Huang, et. al., “Education and Innovation: The Long Shadow of the Cultural Revolution,” NBER Working Paper No. 27107, May 2020.

Commentary: The causal effects of education are often difficult to determine, given that those who go to school longer may be doing so because they are already better skilled. Researchers have attempted to isolate this effect by examining Chinese CEOs who turned 18 during the Cultural Revolution, which dramatically reduced opportunities to attend college. By leveraging this discontinuity, they estimate that Chinese companies with a CEO who has less than a college degree invest 1.6 percent less of their assets into R&D and file 28 percent fewer patent applications.