DONDENA Seminar - Ralf Meisenzahl

Ralf Meisenzahl
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The Research University, Invention, and Industry: Evidence from German History

“The Research University, Invention, and Industry: Evidence from German History”

SPEAKER: Ralf Meisenzahl (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)


We examine the role of universities in knowledge production and industrial change using historical evidence. Political shocks drove a profound pro-science shift in German universities in the late 1700s. To study the consequences, we construct novel microdata. We find invention and manufacturing developed similarly in cities closer to and farther from universities in the 1700s and shifted towards universities and accelerated in the early 1800s. The shift in manufacturing was strongest in new and high knowledge industries and near large universities. After 1800, the adoption of mechanized technology and the number of firms winning international awards for innovation were higher near universities.


Ralf Meisenzahl is a Senior Economist, Economic Advisor and Head of Insurance Initiative at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Ralf focuses on empirical research in financial economics, macroeconomics, and economic history. He serves as co-editor in chief (with Karen Clay, Carnegie Mellon University) of Explorations in Economic History. His work has been published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Review of Economic Studies, Journal of Financial Economics, and Review of Financial Studies. Ralf is an affiliate of Northwestern’s Center for Economic History and teaches at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (iMBA). He received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University and his Diplom in Economics from the University of Mannheim.


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