Inventive Activity in Early Industrial America: Evidence From Patent Records, 1790 - 1846
NBER Working Paper No. 2707
A sample of patent records from the United States between 1790 and 1846 is employed to study the patterns in inventive activity. Patenting was pro-cyclical, and yet began to grow rapidly with the interruptions in foreign trade that preceded the War of 1812. A strong association between patenting and proximity to navigable waterways is also demonstrated. Although the importance of specific mechanisms remains unclear, both the temporal and cross-sectional evidence imply that inventive activity was positively related to the growth of markets during early industrialization.
Published: Journal of Economic History, vol. 48, pp. 813-850, December 1988.