Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Interesting Science, Technology, and Innovation Research Resources

So "skilled labor" is a pretty firm part of my fluctuating list of research interests now, and I've been collecting a bunch of research resources - mostly data - that I'd like to use one day for some work on it. Some is on the high skill labor market, some on innovation in general (patents, R&D spending, etc.)

1. SESTAT is a collection of datasets maintained by the National Science Foundation, and I believe the surveys themselves are done by Mathematica. SESTAT focuses on college graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math fields (STEM). The most interesting dataset in SESTAT to me is the survey of recent college graduates. This survey has detailed employment information on recent STEM graduates - including job search variables and information on how much they use what they learned in school on the job. I could think of some great "human capital utilization" variables that could be constructed from this that would be comparable to the "capital utilization" data collected on manufacturing plants by the federal reserve banks. There is also a survey of all college graduates that surveys a sample drawn from the decennial census. The advantage of this data is that it provides a cross section of the skilled laborforce. The disadvantage is that since these aren't recent graduates it doesn't give a good picture of recent changes to skilled labor supply, or what to expect in the future.

2. NSF provides lots of other data as well - the most interesting to me being a long time-series on R&D funding by source. It would be interesting to track how federal vs. state R&D funding has changed over time, and where they've been spending it.

3. Just yesterday I discovered the National Bureau of Economic Research's (NBER's) Science and Engineering Workforce Project. It's just a general forum and resource for relevant research - the usual suspects are here: George Borjas, Richard Freeman, etc. It also has a link to an intriguing project called the “Nanobank". This is how the Nanobank describes it's work:

This project uses econometric methods to estimate the impact of nanoscale science and technology (nano S&T) research, and associated interdisciplinary research, directly on firms' entry and success and hence on U.S. economic growth, standard of living, and competitiveness. The research team also performs scientometric and institutional analyses of diffusion and networks in nano S&T and converging fields, and the reciprocal effects of institutions on nano S&T and of academic scientists' involvement in commercialization on their scientific productivity and teaching.

It also has some beta test data available for download on patents, patent citations, NSF grants, and NIH grants. I assume it is all nano-specific patents and grants here. The patent data interest me most. Another NBER source for patent data is Hall, Jaffe, and Tratjenberg's (2001) file. It looks like these patents are from 1963 to 1999 - roughly 3 million of them, with data on 16 million citations. I get the impression these are only specific industries, though - much like the nano-data. That's not a major constraint for me with the "innovation diffusion" modeling I have in mind, but if you need more than that you can always go to the Patent Office website. It's REALLY obnoxious to get data from here - you have to do it a page at a time so extracting millions of patents right from the website is not an option - but you do have access to information on every single patent ever issued since the beginning of the republic... that's pretty freaking cool.

4. The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), produced by the National Center for Education Statistics in the Department of Education has detailed graduate data for every postsecondary institution in the country - including graduations by field, race, and gender. It also has lots of finance information at the school level, although unfortunately not at the degree program level (i.e. - you can track federal grants going to the school, but not federal grants going to the school's physics department). I used this data in a report by Hal Salzman on the STEM workforce , but I think there is a LOT more that could have been done with it. I still need to read the final product, but I think I would take issue with some of the intepretations that Hal applied (more related to the labor demand side of the skilled labor market, which I didn't not help him with or even read yet - rather than the labor supply side which I'm more familiar with).

More resources to come, potentially... maybe I should put up some international resources for potential research on comparing the U.S. to other countries.

1 comment:

dkuehn said...

sorry for the formatting on this one... weird