The paper presented in this seminar documents differences across higher-education courses in the coverage of frontier knowledge. Comparing the text of 1.7M syllabi and 20M academic articles, the authors construct the “education-innovation gap,” a syllabus’s relative proximity to old and new knowledge. They show that courses differ greatly in the extent to which they cover frontier knowledge. More selective and better funded schools, and those enrolling socio-economically advantaged students, teach more frontier knowledge. Third, instructors play a big role in shaping course content; research-active instructors teach more frontier knowledge. Lastly, the presence of frontier knowledge is strongly related to students’ ability to innovate and their labor market outcomes.
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