The "new growth theory" of economics is getting much attention in the popular press these days. For example, Paul Romer, a leading proponent of the new growth theory, is on the list of Time's 25 most influential Americans and Newsweek's list of 100 people to watch as America moves into the next century. Does the new growth theory have anything to do with science, and if so, what?

In an article I recently published in the Journal of Economic Literature entitled "The Economics of Science" (P. Stephan, 34:1199-235, 1996), I argue that the foremost reason economists have for studying science is the link between science and economic growth. The research enterprise, which is influenced by economic incentives, is a key component of the new growth theory. Furthermore, I go on to argue that a case could be made that some university researchers have become too interested in economic rewards for...

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