Risk-Mitigating Technologies: the Case of Radiation Diagnostic Devices
We study the impact of consumers’ risk perception on firm innovation. Our analysis exploits a major surge in the perceived risk of radiation diagnostic devices, following extensive media coverage of a set of over-radiation accidents involving CT scanners in late 2009. Difference-in-differences regressions using data on patents and FDA product clearances show that the increased perception of radiation risk spurred the development of new technologies that mitigated such risk and led to a greater number of new products. We provide qualitative evidence and describe patterns of equipment usage and upgrade that are consistent with this mechanism. Our analysis suggests that changes in risk perception can be an important driver of innovation and can shape the direction of technological progress.
We are grateful for financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.