Academic institutions have become the centerpieces of urban and regional economies, employing large numbers, purchasing goods and services and anchoring neighborhoods with their land investments. More importantly in the knowledge and service base economy of the twenty- first century these knowledge generating institutions help their economies compete for growth.

This study examines the extent to which four- year universities in the United States stimulate innovation, economic growth, and vitality within U.S. metropolitan areas. Using a sequential two- part model, the regression equations test the hypothesis that universities act as a catalyst for creating innovation and economic growth in urban areas. Estimates show that research universities, in particular, exert a positive and statistically significant influence on patents. Additionally, we find evidence that research universities indirectly impact per capita income through patents. In both models, human capital is a significant predictor of innovation and economic growth.


Burnell, James


Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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