Drifting on the Academic Highway: Experimental Evidence from a Transition to University

Yotam Sofer, Olof Ejermo

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


We examine the effects of the 1999 transition to full university of three former Swedish university colleges: Karlstad, Ærebro, and Växjö on scientific output. This change was accompanied by a substantial increase in research funding. Scrutiny of the process reveals that the transition was far from obvious, allowing us to analyze the impact of increased research resources in a quasi-experimental setting. We examine how publications responded when research resources were raised from low levels. We then probe into the consequences on the individual level to understand the difference in gains between staff groups. This work differs from earlier research which has mostly looked at the effects of increases in research funding on established universities or individuals who win research grants. To understand how the transition impacted publication, we use an individual-level publication activity dataset, linked to Swedish register data and university staff registers. We contrast the three treated institutions against a similar group of university colleges that did not become universities in a difference-in-differences analysis combined with matching. We find that treated individuals increased their publication rates by 89\% per year following the transition. However, we cannot discern any changes in the rate at which publications were cited. On the field level, we show that this effect was mostly explained by increased funding. Additionally, we explore the heterogeneity of treatment effects, potential mechanisms (collaboration, workforce dynamics), and management strategies (using a survey).
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventDRUID23 Conference - NOVA School of Business and Economics, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 10 Jun 202312 Jun 2023
Conference number: 44


ConferenceDRUID23 Conference
LocationNOVA School of Business and Economics
Internet address


  • University transition
  • Sweden
  • Knowledge production
  • Difference­-in-­differences
  • University Colleges

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