Patents and Innovation in Economic History
A strong tradition in economic history, which primarily relies on qualitative evidence and statistical correlations, has emphasized the importance of patents as a primary driver of innovation. Recent improvements in empirical methodology – through the creation of new data sets and advances in identification – have produced research that challenges this traditional view. The findings of this literature provide a more nuanced view of the effects of intellectual property, and suggest that when patent rights have been too broad or strong, they have actually discouraged innovation. This paper summarizes the major results from this research and presents open questions.
Prepared for the Annual Review of Economics. I wish to thank the editor Tim Bresnahan, as well as Eric Hilt, Larry White, Megan MacGarvie, and Walker Hanlon for helpful comments and discussions. Much of the research that I describe in this review has been supported by the National Science Foundation through CAREER Grant 1151180, and through a Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study (CASBS). The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Petra Moser, 2016. "Patents and Innovation in Economic History," Annual Review of Economics, vol 8(1), pages 241-258.