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Patents and Research Investments: Assessing the Empirical Evidence

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  • Eric Budish
  • Benjamin N. Roin
  • Heidi Williams

Abstract

A well-developed theoretical literature--dating back at least to Nordhaus (1969)--has analyzed optimal patent policy design. We re-present the core trade-off of the Nordhaus model and highlight an empirical question which emerges from the Nordhaus framework as a key input into optimal patent policy design: namely, what is the elasticity of R&D investment with respect to the patent term? We then review the--surprisingly small--body of empirical evidence that has been developed on this question over the nearly half century since the publication of Nordhaus's book.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Budish & Benjamin N. Roin & Heidi Williams, 2016. "Patents and Research Investments: Assessing the Empirical Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 183-187, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:106:y:2016:i:5:p:183-87
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.p20161091
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sakakibara, Mariko & Branstetter, Lee, 2001. "Do Stronger Patents Induce More Innovation? Evidence from the 1988 Japanese Patent Law Reforms," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 77-100, Spring.
    2. Paul Klemperer, 1990. "How Broad Should the Scope of Patent Protection Be?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 113-130, Spring.
    3. Richard Gilbert & Carl Shapiro, 1990. "Optimal Patent Length and Breadth," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 106-112, Spring.
    4. Edwin Mansfield, 1986. "Patents and Innovation: An Empirical Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(2), pages 173-181, February.
    5. Eric Budish & Benjamin N. Roin & Heidi Williams, 2015. "Do Firms Underinvest in Long-Term Research? Evidence from Cancer Clinical Trials," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(7), pages 2044-2085, July.
    6. Yi Qian, 2007. "Do National Patent Laws Stimulate Domestic Innovation in a Global Patenting Environment? A Cross-Country Analysis of Pharmaceutical Patent Protection, 1978-2002," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(3), pages 436-453, August.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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