State investments in high-technology job growth

Soc Sci Res. 2017 Jul;65:30-46. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2017.03.007. Epub 2017 Apr 4.


Since the early 1970's state and local governments have launched an array of economic development programs designed to promote high-technology development. The question our analysis addresses is whether these programs promote long-term high-technology employment growth net of state location and agglomeration advantages. Proponents talk about an infrastructure strategy that promotes investment in public research and specialized infrastructure to attract and grow new high technology industries in specific locations, and a more decentralized entrepreneurial strategy that reinforces local agglomeration capacities by investing in new enterprises and products, promoting the development of local networks and partnerships. Our results support the entrepreneurial strategy, suggesting that state governments can accelerate high technology development by adopting market-supportive programs that complement private sector initiatives. In addition to positive direct benefits of technology deployment/transfer programs and SBIR programs, entrepreneurial programs affect change in high-technology employment in concert with existing locational and agglomeration advantages. Rural (i.e. low population density) states tend to benefit by technology development programs. Infrastructure strategy programs also facilitate high technology job growth in places where local advantages already exist. Our results suggest that critics of industrial policy are correct that high technology growth is organic and endogenous, yet state governments are able to "pick winners and losers" in ways that grow their local economy.

Keywords: High-technology; Jobs; State institutions.