America, Jump-started: World War II R&D and the Takeoff of the U.S. Innovation System
During World War II, the U.S. government's Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) supported one of the largest public investments in applied R&D in U.S. history. Using data on all OSRD-funded invention, we show that this shock had a formative impact on the U.S. innovation system, catalyzing technology clusters across the country, with accompanying increases in high-tech entrepreneurship and employment. These effects persist until at least the 1970s, and appear to be driven by agglomerative forces and endogenous growth. In addition to creating technology clusters, wartime R&D permanently changed the trajectory of overall U.S. innovation in the direction of OSRD-funded technologies.
Daniel P. Gross & Bhaven N. Sampat, 2023. "America, Jump-Started: World War II R&D and the Takeoff of the US Innovation System," American Economic Review, vol 113(12), pages 3323-3356. citation courtesy of