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James Watt As Intellectual Monopolist: Comment On Boldrin And Levine

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  • George Selgin
  • John Turner

Abstract

In their 2003 Lawrence R. Klein Lecture, Michele Boldrin and David Levine argue that intellectual property rights may be damaging to social welfare. As empirical evidence for their theory they offer James Watt's steam engine patent, claiming that it delayed the Industrial Revolution by as much as two decades. We show that this claim, as well as the more general claim that Watt's story supports Boldrin and Levine's theory, rests upon a distorted summary of the historical record. Copyright 2006 by the Economics Department Of The University Of Pennsylvania And Osaka University Institute Of Social And Economic Research Association.

Suggested Citation

  • George Selgin & John Turner, 2006. "James Watt As Intellectual Monopolist: Comment On Boldrin And Levine," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1341-1348, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:ier:iecrev:v:47:y:2006:i:4:p:1341-1348
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    Cited by:

    1. Boldrin Michele & Levine David K., 2009. "Does Intellectual Monopoly Help Innovation?," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(3), pages 991-1024, December.
    2. Evrin, Alperen, 2013. "International Specialization in Research & Development," MPRA Paper 62392, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Selgin George & Turner John L., 2009. "Watt, Again? Boldrin and Levine Still Exaggerate the Adverse Effect of Patents on the Progress of Steam Power," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(3), pages 1101-1113, December.

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