NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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The Roots of Agricultural Innovation: Evidence from Patents

Matt Clancy, Paul Heisey, Yongjie Ji, GianCarlo Moschini


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 Economics of Research and Innovation in Agriculture, Petra Moser, editor
Conference held May 17, 2019
Forthcoming from University of Chicago Press

Agricultural productivity has increased tremendously over the last century, largely due to waves of technological innovations credited to past investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) activities. This paper investigates the extent to which knowledge spillovers from outside agriculture contribute to agricultural innovation. We develop metrics of US agricultural R&D output based on US patents granted over the period 1976-2016. To measure knowledge flows, we rely on three main proxies: patent citations to other patents, patent citations to the scientific literature, and a novel text analysis to identify and track new ideas in the patent text. The originating domain of knowledge flows is alternatively characterized in terms of patent technology classes, assignee area of research, and subject areas of scientific citations. We typically find more than half of knowledge flows originate outside of agriculture.

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