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Innovation Fact of the Week: Increased Airline Industry Competition Boosted Researcher Collaboration by 50 Percent Between 1991 and 2012

Airline Science

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The saying “two minds are better than one” is more than just a cliché when it comes to scientific research. In fact, it is widely understood in academia that collaborative research projects produce better outcomes than solo efforts. That is why competition in the airline industry—which drives down ticket prices—also has a beneficial side effect for innovation: It is easier for colleagues far afield to get together to work face-to-face.

Economists Christian Catalini, Christian Fons-Rosen, and Patrick Gaule studied the impact of increased airline competition on research collaboration between 1991 and 2012 by matching the introduction of new airline routes with the effect on ticket prices and research activity at universities in the vicinity of the new routes. They estimate that because of cheaper airline tickets, collaborative projects increased by 36 percent in chemistry, 26 percent in physics, 49 percent in engineering, and 85 percent in biology. On average, cheaper airline tickets boosted collaboration by 50 percent over the past two decades.

Read last week’s Innovation Fact of the Week

Photo Credit: Andy LoPresto via Flickr

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About the author

John Wu is an economic research assistant at ITIF His research interests include green technologies, labor economics, and time use. He graduated from the College of Wooster with a bachelor of arts in economics and sociology, with a minor in environmental studies.