Breakthrough Inventions and Migrating Clusters of Innovation
We investigate the speed at which clusters of invention for a technology migrate spatially following breakthrough inventions. We identify breakthrough inventions as the top one percent of US inventions for a technology during 1975-1984 in terms of subsequent citations. Patenting growth is significantly higher in cities and technologies where breakthrough inventions occur after 1984 relative to peer locations that do not experience breakthrough inventions. This growth differential in turn depends on the mobility of the technology's labor force, which we model through the extent that technologies depend upon immigrant scientists and engineers. Spatial adjustments are faster for technologies that depend heavily on immigrant inventors. The results qualitatively confirm the mechanism of industry migration proposed in models like Duranton (2007).
Comments are appreciated and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am grateful to Ajay Agrawal, Megan MacGarvie, Ed Glaeser, Stuart Rosenthal, Will Strange, and seminar participants at Kauffman Foundation Cities and Entrepreneurship Conference, NBER Productivity, and UBC Sauder for feedback on this work. This research is supported by Harvard Business School, the National Science Foundation, the Innovation Policy and the Economy Group, and the MIT George Schultz Fund. A previous version of this paper was titled "Immigrants and Spatial Adjustments in US Invention." The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Kerr, William R., 2010. "Breakthrough inventions and migrating clusters of innovation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 46-60, January. citation courtesy of
Breakthrough Inventions and Migrating Clusters of Innovation, William R. Kerr. in Cities and Entrepreneurship, Glaeser, Rosenthal, and Strange. 2010