Effects of Government Spending on Research Workforce Development: Evidence from Biomedical Postdoctoral Researchers

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We examine effects of government spending on postdoctoral researchers’ (postdocs) productivity in biomedical sciences, the largest population of postdocs in the US. We analyze changes in the productivity of postdocs before and after the US government’s 1997 decision to increase NIH funding. In the first round of analysis, we find that more government spending has resulted in longer postdoc careers. We see no significant changes in researchers’ productivity in terms of publication and conference presentations. However, when the population is segmented by citizenship, we find that the effects are heterogeneous; US citizens stay longer in postdoc positions with no change in publications and, in contrast, international permanent residents (green card holders) produce more conference papers and publications without significant changes in postdoc duration. Possible explanations and policy implications of the analysis are discussed.