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Where do ideas come from? Book production and patents in global and temporal perspective

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  • Aurelian Plopeanu, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”
  • Peter Foldvari
  • Bas van Leeuwen
  • Jan Luiten van Zanden

    (Universiteit Utrecht and Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Abstract

In this paper we try to establish the link between book production and the spread of “ideas” as proxied by patents. Two mechanisms may be distinguished. First, in the initial phase of economic development, the production of books may stimulate the accumulation of knowledge already present in society. After such an accumulation is complete, books may stimulate a common research focus within a certain geographic space. Applying this to the case of England, we find that books indeed had a significant on the number of patents during the second Industrial Revolution. However, when education became increasingly important, the role of books eventually broke down in the second half of the twentieth century. This pattern does not hold true for less developed regions where, due to the lack of efficient education, linguistic fragmentation, an overwhelmingly oral culture, and a structural different kind of knowledge, book production stagnated and no knowledge could be imported (for example via translated books.

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File URL: http://www.cgeh.nl/sites/default/files/WorkingPapers/CGEH.WP_.No33.Plopeanu.et_.al_.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History in its series Working Papers with number 0033.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0033

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Postal: University of Utrecht, Drift 10, The Netherlands
Web page: http://www.cgeh.nl
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Related research

Keywords: book production; patents; ideas; economic development; England; world;

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

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  1. O'Rourke, Kevin H & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 1996. "Around the European Periphery 1870-1913: Globalization, Schooling and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1343, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong Wha, 2013. "A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 184-198.
  3. Jörg Baten & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2007. "Book production and the onset of modern economic growth," Economics Working Papers 1030, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  4. Mayer, Thierry & Zignago, Soledad, 2006. "Notes on CEPII’s distances measures," MPRA Paper 26469, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Galor, Oded & Weil, David, 1998. "Population, Technology and Growth: From the Malthusian Regime to the Demographic Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 1981, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Buringh, Eltjo & Van Zanden, Jan Luiten, 2009. "Charting the “Rise of the West”: Manuscripts and Printed Books in Europe, A Long-Term Perspective from the Sixth through Eighteenth Centuries," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(02), pages 409-445, June.
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