DP14509 The Academic Market and the Rise of Universities in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (1000-1800)

Author(s): David de la Croix, Frédéric Docquier, Alice Fabre, Robert Stelter
Publication Date: March 2020
Keyword(s): agglomeration, Discrete choice model, Publications, Scholars, Universities, Upper-Tail Human Capital
JEL(s): I25, N33, O15
Programme Areas: Economic History, Macroeconomics and Growth
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14509

We argue that market forces shaped the geographic distribution of upper-tail human capital across Europe during the Middle Ages, and contributed to bolstering universities at the dawn of the Humanistic and Scientific Revolutions. We build a unique database of thousands of scholars from university sources covering all of Europe, construct an index of their ability, and map the academic market in the medieval and early modern periods. We show that scholars tended to concentrate in the best universities (agglomeration), that better scholars were more sensitive to the quality of the university (positive sorting) and migrated over greater distances (positive selection). Agglomeration, selection and sorting patterns testify to a functioning academic market, made possible by political fragmentation and the use of a common language (Latin).