David de la Croix, Université catholique de Louvain

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

Medieval universities are one of the most original creations of Western civilization. In universities, students were educated by a plurality of masters, and schools recruited scholars from all parts of Europe. In this paper, we build an original database of thousands of scholars from university sources, and map the academic market in the medieval and early modern periods. The quality of scholars is measured using information provided by the catalog of world libraries (Worldcat). Using a random utility model, we show that scholars tend to agglomerate in the best universities, and that this phenomenon is more pronounced within the upper tail of the talent distribution (positive sorting). Agglomeration and sorting patterns testify to a functioning academic market, made possible by political fragmentation and the use of a common language (Latin). Using simulations to compare our location choice model with a basic gravity framework, we show that market forces shaped the geographic distribution of upper-tail human capital across Europe, and contributed to fostering the total output of European universities at the dawn of the Humanistic and Scientific Revolutions.

David de la Croix


Contact person: Casper Worm Hansen