My Precious! The Location and Diffusion of Scientific Research: Evidence from the Synchrotron Diamond Light Source


  • This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council grant numbers ES/J021342/1 and ES/G005966/1. We thank Zhe Sun and Wenjie Wu for excellent research assistance and Felix Weinhardt for assistance with GIS. We thank Manos Kitsios, Tim Simcoe, seminar/session participants at UC Berkeley, UC Merced, EPFL Lausanne, KU Leuven, Stanford, Santa Clara, the University of Würzburg, the University of Kassel, the SERC Conference 2011 at LSE, the Royal Economic Society Conference 2013, the NBER Innovation Summer Institute, a workshop at Universitat de Barcelona, the Technology Transfer Conference 2011 and the 7th Meeting of the Urban Economics Association for their useful comments and suggestions. We are particularly grateful to Walter Luyten for advice on the data construction. Finally, we thank the editor Kjell Salvanes and two anonymous referees for comments and suggestions that have considerably improved the article.


We analyse the impact of the establishment of the Diamond Light Source synchrotron, a large basic scientific research facility in the UK, on the geographic distribution of related research. To account for the potentially endogenous location choice of the synchrotron, we rely on the availability of a ‘runner-up’ site. We use data on academic publications to trace the geographic distribution of related scientific inputs and outputs. Our results suggest that proximity to Diamond had a positive impact on the output of related research. This proximity effect appears to be driven by an increase in inputs rather than the productivity of scientists.