We estimate the contribution of physical capital in the production of new knowledge. We hereby exploit a set of about 100 adverse events at research institutions as plausibly exogenous shock to the availability of research-related assets. We find that the productivity of affected scientists is substantially reduced after these events in terms of research output and impact. This effect prevails even 10 years after the physical capital loss. Affected scientists subsequently work with fewer co-authors per publication and conduct research that is less related to their previous work. Increasing the propensity to leave academia or to move to a lower ranked institution, the loss of physical capital seems to have repercussions on the scientists' overall career development.
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