I am looking for some study that tries to calculate whether the NASA program on a net basis benefits the US economy. The program is very expensive, but it generates lots of patents, research, jobs and other things that must have some value for the US economy.
I had a look, and there's not a alot, and not much that is current. The problem is, the question (What is the impact of NASA on the economy?) is too big and too difficult to measure. I think you'll have better luck by focusing on particular angles to this question.
For example, when referring to the impact of NASA, this could be anything from impacts on the aerospace industry, manufacturing industry, procurement, R&D, IP and patents, services and local economies at the different NASA sites, during different time periods, etc.
I'm sure you've already done some searches, but in case you haven't tried this, have a look at Google Scholar, and see if any of your search results bring up papers that a) sound topical and b) are widely cited.
For papers that fit both criteria, click on the "Cited by..." link and you will find a list of all papers that reference this result, from which you can get a better idea of different research angles people have taken, as well different key words that you can use to look for what you ultimately are trying to answer.
Below I list the titles of a couple of relevant papers to get you started. Try entering them yourself into Google Scholar and have a look at where they have been cited. Good luck!
- "Assessing the full effects of public investment in space"
- "Evidence from Patents and Patent Citations on the Impact of NASA and Other Federal Labs on Commercial Innovation"
- "Economic Effects and Spin-offs in a Small Space Economy: The Case of Canada"
- "Measuring the Economic Returns from Successful NASA Life Sciences Technology Transfers"
- "Estimating the Impact of Shuttle Launches on Regional Economic Activity"