Patents and R and D at the Firm Level: A First Look

Ariel Pakes, Zvi Griliches

NBER Working Paper No. 561
Issued in October 1980
NBER Program(s):   PR

This is a first report from a larger study of inventive activity of U.S. firms and some of its consequences. It reports on the relationship between patents applied for and R&D expenditures based on data for 121 large corporations covering the 1968-1975 period. The main conclusion is that there is a statistically significant relationship between a firm's R&D expenditures and the number of patents it applied for and receives. This relationship is very strong in the cross-sectional dimension (squared partial correlations of .8 or higher). It is weaker in the within-firm time-series dimension (partial r[squared]'s of .2 to .3). Attempts to fit an unconstrained distributed lag relationship yields only significant coefficients for the first and last terms in the lag structure, indicating both a quick response of patenting to changes in R&D and a small but persistent effect of past R&D, the truncation of this long lag being reflected in a significant coefficient for R&D lagged five years. In spite of these difficulties, patent counts do measure something systematic and hence are worthy of further study.

download in pdf format
   (358 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (358 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w0561


  • Pakes, Ariel and Zvi Griliches. "Patents and R and D at the Firm Level: A First Report." Economics Letter, No. 5, (1980), pp. 377-381.
  • Pakes, Ariel and Zvi Griliches. "Patents and R and D at the Firm Level: A First Look." R and D Patents & Productivity, edited by Zvi Griliches. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, (1984). pp. 55-72.
  • Patents and R&D at the Firm Level: A First Look, Ariel Pakes, Zvi Griliches. in R&D, Patents, and Productivity, Griliches. 1984

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Pakes and Griliches Patents and R&D at the Firm Level: A First Look
Hall, Griliches, and Hausman w1454 Patents and R&D: Is There A Lag?
Griliches Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey
Griliches Issues in Assessing the Contribution of Research and Development to Productivity Growth
Bound, Cummins, Griliches, Hall, and Jaffe w0908 Who Does R&D and Who Patents?
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us