NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Information Technology and the Distribution of Inventive Activity

Chris Forman, Avi Goldfarb, Shane Greenstein


This chapter is a preliminary draft unless otherwise noted. It may not have been subjected to the formal review process of the NBER. This page will be updated as the chapter is revised.

Chapter in forthcoming NBER book The Changing Frontier: Rethinking Science and Innovation Policy, Adam Jaffe and Benjamin Jones, editors
Conference held August 2-3, 2013
Forthcoming from University of Chicago Press

We examine the relationship between the diffusion of advanced internet technology and the geographic concentration of invention, as measured by patents. First, we show that patenting became more concentrated from the early 1990s to the early 2000s and, similarly, that counties that were leaders in patenting in the early 1990s produced relatively more patents by the early 2000s. Second, we compare the extent of invention in counties that were leaders in internet adoption to those that were not. We see little difference in the growth rate of patenting between leaders and laggards in internet adoption, on average. However, we find that the rate of patent growth was faster among counties who were not leaders in patenting in the early 1990s but were leaders in internet adoption by 2000, suggesting that the internet helped stem the trend towards more geographic concentration. We show that these results are largely driven by patents filed by distant collaborators rather than non‐collaborative patents or patents by non‐distant collaborators, suggesting low cost long‐distance digital communication as a potential mechanism.

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This paper was revised on July 22, 2014

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w20036, Information Technology and the Distribution of Inventive Activity, Chris Forman, Avi Goldfarb, Shane Greenstein
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