Expansion of Brazilian Federal Universities: Is It Possible to Raise Economic Impacts?

Abstract The investigation of the effects of the implantation of university units on the local development is still incipient in Brazil. Even at the international level, few studies use robust methods to estimate the impacts of these structures, let alone seek to differentiate them over time. This paper evaluates the initial impacts of the federal universities' expansion policy in the 2000s on municipal economies, based on production and income indicators. Based on a broad data set for Brazilian municipalities, we apply the propensity score matching technique and then estimate Treatment Effect on Treated by the policy. The results indicate that the implementation of the new campuses was able to raise the per capita income of the benefited municipalities by 3.5% to 5.8%, on average, but that there was no additional gain from the time of implementation of the campuses. The absence of campus maturation effect points to a difficulty in generating the productivity jumps normally expected with the implementation of these structures. In this case, it would be possible to seek a greater return from these investments by reevaluating the criteria for creating new campuses and by better focusing on the actions of existing ones.