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  • Istituto di Economia
  • Seminario

The Returns to Physical Capital in Knowledge Production: Evidence from Lab Disasters

Data 21.11.2023 orario

Piazza Martiri della Libertà, 33 , 56127 Italia

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The Institute of Economics will hold a seminar meeting as part of its Seminar Series on Tuesday, November 21, 2023Fabian Gaessler from Universitat Pompeu Fabra will present the paper " The returns to Physical Capital in knowledge production: evidence from Lab Disaster".


We establish the importance of physical capital in knowledge production. Exploiting adverse events in research laboratories, we find that scientists experience a persistent reduction in research output if they lose specialized physical capital—equipment and material they created over time for a particular research purpose. In contrast, they recover in productivity if they only lose generic physical capital. Scientists in older laboratories, who presumably lose more obsolete physical capital, are more likely to change their research direction and recover. These findings suggest that scientists' investments in their own physical capital yield lasting returns but also create path dependence.

The Seminar will be in Aula 6: for online partecipation use this link.