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Inventing social capital: Evidence from African American inventors, 1843–1930

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  • Cook, Lisa D.

Abstract

Much recent work has focused on the influence of social capital on innovative outcomes. Little research has been done on disadvantaged groups who were often restricted from participation in social networks that provide information necessary for invention and innovation. Unique new data on African American inventors and patentees between 1843 and 1930 permit an empirical investigation of the relation between social capital and economic outcomes. I find that African Americans used both traditional, i.e., occupation-based, and nontraditional, i.e., civic, networks to maximize inventive output and that laws constraining social-capital formation are most negatively correlated with economically important inventive activity.

Suggested Citation

  • Cook, Lisa D., 2011. "Inventing social capital: Evidence from African American inventors, 1843–1930," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 507-518.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:48:y:2011:i:4:p:507-518
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2011.05.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. William H. Phillips, 2008. "The Democratization of Invention in the American South: Antebellum and Post Bellum Technology Markets in the United States," Working Papers 0804, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    2. Lisa Cook, 2014. "Violence and economic activity: evidence from African American patents, 1870–1940," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 221-257, June.
    3. Ma, Tingting & Zhang, Yi & Huang, Lu & Shang, Lining & Wang, Kangrui & Yu, Huizhu & Zhu, Donghua, 2017. "Text mining to gain technical intelligence for acquired target selection: A case study for China's computer numerical control machine tools industry," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 162-180.
    4. Akcigit, Ufuk & Grigsby, John & Nicholas, Tom, 2017. "The Rise of American Ingenuity: Innovation and Inventors of the Golden Age," CEPR Discussion Papers 11755, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Cook, Lisa D. & Logan, Trevon D. & Parman, John M., 2014. "Distinctively black names in the American past," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 64-82.
    6. Lisa D. Cook & Chaleampong Kongcharoen, 2010. "The Idea Gap in Pink and Black," NBER Working Papers 16331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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