The Rate of Obsolescence Of Knowledge, Research Gestation Lags, and the Private Rate of Return to Research Resources
AbstractThis paper points out the conceptual distinction between the rates of decay in the physical productivity of traditional capital goods and that of the appropriate revenues accruing to knowledge-producing activities, and notes that it is the latter parameter which is required in any study which constructs a stock of privately marketable knowledge. The rate of obsolescence of knowledge is estimated from a simple patent renewal and the estimates are found to be comparable to evidence provided by firms on the lifespan of the output of their R&D activities. These estimates, together with mean R&D gestation lags, are then used to correct previous estimates of the private excess rate of return to investment in research. We find that after the correction, the private excess rate of return to investment in research, at least in the early 1960's, was close to zero, which may explain why firms reduced the fraction of their resources allocated to research over the subsequent decade.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0346.
Date of creation: May 1979
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Ariel Pakes, Mark Schankerman. "The Rate of Obsolescence of Patents, Research Gestation Lags, and the Private Rate of Return to Research Resources ," in Zvi Griliches, ed., "R & D, Patents, and Productivity" University of Chicago Press (1984)
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- Kenneth Arrow, 1962. "Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 609-626 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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