Quality & Quantity

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 2063–2080 | Cite as

A structural equation model to assess the impact of agricultural research expenditure on multiple dimensions

  • Alessandro MagriniEmail author
  • Fabio Bartolini
  • Alessandra Coli
  • Barbara Pacini


The economic crisis and the pressure towards efficient and effective use of public money claim for a higher accountability of research expenditure, as well as for a greater proximity of research to the needs of community. While agricultural productivity represents a worldwide goal for agricultural research as a response to growing food, feed and energy demands, other objectives besides productivity are becoming central. The challenge is to take into account broader impacts that go beyond academic and economic ones, and to improve knowledge on the causal impact-generating mechanisms. In this paper, we adopt a causal perspective and estimate the impact of agricultural research expenditure on multiple dimensions. We develop a structural equation model relating research expenditure, research activity, productivity and multiple impact indicators within a dynamic impact pathway, accounting for existing domain knowledge on causal relationships and their lag structures. The model is applied on EU 15 countries over the period 1980–2014, making use of official statistics from several European databases.


Directed acyclic graph Dynamic causal effects Polynomial lag shape Research impact assessment Productivity Sustainable development 



The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant agreement No. 609448 (IMPRESA project,


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Statistics, Computer Science, ApplicationsUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Department of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Economics and ManagementUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  4. 4.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of PisaPisaItaly

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