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THE IMPACT OF PUBLIC R&D EXPENDITURE ON BUSINESS R&D*

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This paper attempts to quantify the aggregate net effect of government funding on business R&D in 17 OECD Member countries over the past two decades. Grants, procurement, tax incentives and direct performance of research (in public laboratories or universities) are the major policy tools in the field. The major results of the study are the following: Direct government funding of R&D performed by firms has a positive effect on business financed R&D (except if the funding is targeted towards defence activities). Tax incentives have an immediate and positive effect on business-financed R&D. Direct funding as well as tax incentives are more effective when they are stable over time: firms do not invest in additional R&D if they are uncertain of the durability of the government support; Direct government funding and R&D tax incentives are substitutes: increased intensity of one reduces the effect of the other on business R&D. The stimulating effect of government funding varies with respect to its generosity: it increases up to a certain threshold (about 10% of business R&D) and then decreases beyond; Defence research performed in public laboratories and universities crowds out private R&D. Civilian public research is neutral for business R&D.

* We thank the participants to various seminars, including the OECD Committee for Scientific and Technology Policy and the NBER 2000 Summer Institute on Productivity for helpful comments and suggestions. All opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect necessarily the views of the OECD or Université Libre de Bruxelles.
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Keywords: Panel data; R&D; Tax credit; Technology policy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: OECD, Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry, 2 rue André Pascal, 75775 Paris cedex 16 2: Université Libre de Bruxelles, Solvay Business School, Associate Professor and Research Associate of the CEPR project on Product Markets, Financial Markets and the Pace of Innovation in Europe; Centre Emile Bernheim and DULBEA, 21 av. F.D. Roosevelt, CP 145-01, B-1050, Brussels

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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