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Economic impact of the UM System on Missouri stronger than ever, according to report

Study by University of Missouri-Columbia professors finds strong link between Missouri’s economic growth and basic research, human capital accumulation

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri System is a powerful economic engine for the state of Missouri, especially in areas such as lifetime earnings, economic growth rate through research and development efforts, and aggregate income associated with human capital investment, according to a report released today by faculty in MU’s economics department.

Ronald Harstad, J. Rhoads Foster professor in the economics of regulated industry at MU, and Joseph Haslag, professor and Kenneth Lay chair in economics and director, Economic & Policy Analysis Research Center and MU, completed the report that compares the growth path of Missouri’s economy with and without UM System research and development and without the enhanced skills that increase graduates’ lifetime earnings.

“For decades, we have shared the value of the UM System, our campuses and research to the state of Missouri. This report solidifies those claims,” UM System Interim President Michael Middleton said. “To be able to use current numbers to support our value statements reinforces the significant return on investment of a University of Missouri education and research for our state.”

Harstad and Haslag outlined several key findings that illustrate how the university is integral to the state’s economy:

  • Missouri’s economic growth rate is 25 percent higher due to the UM System’s research and development efforts.
  • Aggregate income would decline if the UM System stopped educating students.
    • Over a generation, the more educated workforce in Missouri is worth $252.7 billion in extra real gross domestic product.
  • At the current level, state appropriations account for more than 30 percent of UM System expenditures.
    • Continuing at current funding levels, in the next 25 years, a return on Missouri’s investment in the UM System will result in $238.4 billion in real gross domestic product.
    • One dollar spent on the UM System from the state equals $38.43 of goods and services; $1.46 in extra general revenue funds.

The report was requested and funded privately by The Missouri 100, an advocacy group that contributes their time and energy in support of the most pressing priorities of the UM System, its four campuses, MU Health Care and Extension. A report of this nature had not been conducted since 2007.

“The Missouri 100 is extremely active in supporting our state’s only public research university. The strong economic value the university provides our state is something that is very important and significant, but not often talked about,” The Missouri 100 Tri-chair Dudley McCarter said. “As a group, we felt this report would help us most clearly tell the good story about our university.  We provide a great return on investment for the state and that doesn’t often make the headlines.”

Members of The Missouri 100 advise and assist the president in promoting the critical role of the UM System in our state’s future and its reputation around the world. The organization serves as a strong advocate for public policies and programs that promote the university’s goals of excellence in teaching, world-class research, service to all our citizens, and stimulation of an entrepreneurial community.

The full report can be found at:

Reviewed 2021-07-19