Essays in applied economics Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/th83m334n

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  • My dissertation concerns two separate issues. The first issue is examined in Essay One, and the second issue is examined in Essays Two and Three. The first essay develops an economic model of the determination of the rental rate of leased farmland in the United States. Particular attention is placed on the exchange rates, a variable that can strongly affect both the foreign demand for U.S. agricultural products and the prices of inputs used in U.S. agricultural production. The essay explores whether the U.S. exchange rate could have an influence on cash rental rates for farmland in five U.S. corn-belt states. An econometric model shows that farmland cash rents have a strongly positive correlation with the U.S. dollar, in terms of its real value relative to major agricultural trading partners. The correlation appears to be most strongly caused by the fact that the dollar is inversely related with the price of key inputs. A strong dollar may therefore be associated with higher net returns, in which case farmers are willing to accept higher cash rents. The second essay examines research portfolio choice in academic bioscience. Using survey data from 1067 academic bioscientists in 80 major U.S. universities, this essay explores whether and to what extent funding agencies influence university bioscientists’ research portfolio choices. I consider a bioscientist who selects a category of research topics based upon its basicness and on the size or scale of the research object. Research object scale classifications are sub-cellular or cellular, organ or organism, and ecosystem. In addition to the sources and sizes of financial grants, I consider other factors that could influence academic research choice, such as the scientist’s ethical or professional norms, university type or infrastructure, and in-kind laboratory support. I hypothesize that the source and size of financial support strongly influence scientists’ research choices. However, I find that funding source does not have a substantial impact on the basicness and object scale of university biotechnology research. University type – and in-kind research support such as genomic databases, soft ware, and equipment – have relatively larger influences on these laboratory research portfolios. The third essay examines fund-raising and productivity in academic bioscience. Academic scientists have two important goals: attracting research money and publishing research results. These two goals appear to be related to one another. The premise of this third essay is that university bioscience research productivity simultaneously determines and is determined by the sizes and sources of grant funds. I use extensive survey data on individual laboratory university bioscientists to test this hypothesis, employing scientists’ professional norms and experience, and the type of university at which they work, as exogenous factors. I find, under rather strong ceteris paribus conditions, that scientists’ publication rates greatly affect their funding successes and that funding success affects publication rates. Federal funding is more publication-rate affected than is state or private funding. Controlling for other factors – including the scientist’s total budget – laboratory labor usage affects laboratory output, implying that scientists misallocate resources between labor and non-labor inputs. In particular, they recruit too few research personnel and direct too many of their laboratory resources toward such non-labor factors as laboratory equipment, cell lines, and reagents.
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