Phi Beta Cons

Spontaneous Growth

During this holiday season, the Pope Center is publishing a short series of articles that question the politically popular assumption that any spending on universities leads to economic growth.

Jay Schalin has examined three iconic high-tech complexes to better understand the role of universities (and government spending). On Monday, we published his article about Silicon Valley; today’s is about Massachusetts’ Route 128 Corridor; and the essay on January 3 will cover North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. For me, the most important thing that these highly touted areas have in common is not their universities — although those play a role — but the length of time it took for them to emerge as growth centers. Many of the necessary conditions developed spontaneously.

Jane S. ShawJane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...


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