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They Don'T Invent Them Like They Used To: An Examination Of Energy Patent Citations Over Time


  • David Popp


This article uses patent citation data to study flows of knowledge across time and across institutions in the field of energy research. Popp [2002, Induced Innovation and Energy Prices. American Economic Review, 92(1), 160-180.] finds that the level of energy-saving research and development (R&D) depends not only on energy prices, but also on the quality of the accumulated knowledge available to inventors. Patent citations are used to represent this quality. This article explores the pattern of citations in these fields more carefully. Evidence for diminishing returns to research inputs, both across time and within a given year is found. To check whether government R&D can help alleviate potential diminishing returns, special attention is paid to citations to government patents. The government patents filed in or after 1981 are more likely to be cited. More importantly, descendants of these government patents are 30% more likely to be cited by subsequent patents. Earlier government research was more applied in nature and is not cited more frequently.

Suggested Citation

  • David Popp, 2006. "They Don'T Invent Them Like They Used To: An Examination Of Energy Patent Citations Over Time," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(8), pages 753-776.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:ecinnt:v:15:y:2006:i:8:p:753-776 DOI: 10.1080/10438590500510459

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jaffe, Adam B & Fogarty, Michael S & Banks, Bruce A, 1998. "Evidence from Patents and Patent Citations on the Impact of NASA and Other Federal Labs on Commercial Innovation," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 183-205, June.
    2. Popp, David, 2004. "ENTICE: endogenous technological change in the DICE model of global warming," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 742-768, July.
    3. Milliman, Scott R. & Prince, Raymond, 1992. "Firm incentives to promote technological change in pollution control: Reply," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 292-296, May.
    4. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Productivity Growth and R&D at the Business Level: Results from the PIMS Data Base," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 134-156 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
    6. Hall, B. & Jaffe, A. & Trajtenberg, M., 2001. "The NBER Patent Citations Data File: Lessons, Insights and Methodological Tools," Papers 2001-29, Tel Aviv.
    7. Winkelmann, Rainer & Zimmermann, Klaus F, 1995. " Recent Developments in Count Data Modelling: Theory and Application," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, March.
    8. Stavins, Robert & Jaffe, Adam & Newell, Richard, 2000. "Technological Change and the Environment," Working Paper Series rwp00-002, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    9. Ricardo J. Caballero & Adam B. Jaffe, 1993. "How High are the Giants' Shoulders: An Empirical Assessment of Knowledge Spillovers and Creative Destruction in a Model of Economic Growth," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1993, Volume 8, pages 15-86 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Pakes, Ariel & Schankerman, Mark A., 1978. "The Rate of Obsolescence of Knowledge, Research Gestation Labs, and the Private Rate of Return to Research Resources," Working Papers 78-13, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    11. Adam B. Jaffe & Karen Palmer, 1997. "Environmental Regulation And Innovation: A Panel Data Study," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(4), pages 610-619, November.
    12. Pakes, Ariel S, 1986. "Patents as Options: Some Estimates of the Value of Holding European Patent Stocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(4), pages 755-784, July.
    13. Richard G. Newell & Adam B. Jaffe & Robert N. Stavins, 1999. "The Induced Innovation Hypothesis and Energy-Saving Technological Change," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 941-975.
    14. Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1981. "Productivity and R and D at the Firm Level," NBER Working Papers 0826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Jung, Chulho & Krutilla, Kerry & Boyd, Roy, 1996. "Incentives for Advanced Pollution Abatement Technology at the Industry Level: An Evaluation of Policy Alternatives," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 95-111, January.
    16. Jean O. Lanjouw & Ariel Pakes & Jonathan Putnam, 1996. "How to Count Patents and Value Intellectual Property: Uses of Patent Renewal and Application Data," NBER Working Papers 5741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1996. "Flows of Knowledge from Universities and Federal Labs: Modeling the Flowof Patent Citations Over Time and Across Institutional and Geographic Boundari," NBER Working Papers 5712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Milliman, Scott R. & Prince, Raymond, 1989. "Firm incentives to promote technological change in pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 247-265, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Popp, David & Santen, Nidhi & Fisher-Vanden, Karen & Webster, Mort, 2013. "Technology variation vs. R&D uncertainty: What matters most for energy patent success?," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 505-533.
    2. Nesta, Lionel & Vona, Francesco & Nicolli, Francesco, 2014. "Environmental policies, competition and innovation in renewable energy," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 396-411.
    3. Pizer, William A. & Popp, David, 2008. "Endogenizing technological change: Matching empirical evidence to modeling needs," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 2754-2770, November.
    4. Popp, David & Newell, Richard G. & Jaffe, Adam B., 2010. "Energy, the Environment, and Technological Change," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    5. Shouro Dasgupta, Shouro & De Cian, Enrica & Verdolini, Elena, 2016. "The Political Economy of Energy Innovation," MITP: Mitigation, Innovation,and Transformation Pathways 234939, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM).
    6. Bistline, John E., 2016. "Energy technology R&D portfolio management: Modeling uncertain returns and market diffusion," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 183(C), pages 1181-1196.
    7. Lionel Nesta & Elena Verdolini & Francesco Vona, 2018. "Threshold policy effects and directed technical change in Energy Innovation," Sciences Po publications 2018-05, Sciences Po.
    8. Santen, Nidhi R. & Anadon, Laura Diaz, 2016. "Balancing solar PV deployment and RD&D: A comprehensive framework for managing innovation uncertainty in electricity technology investment planning," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 560-569.
    9. Carlsson , Bo, 2016. "Industrial Dynamics: A Review of the Literature 1990-2009," Papers in Innovation Studies 2016/3, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
    10. Nemet, Gregory F. & Johnson, Evan, 2012. "Do important inventions benefit from knowledge originating in other technological domains?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 190-200.
    11. Nemet, Gregory F., 2012. "Inter-technology knowledge spillovers for energy technologies," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 1259-1270.
    12. repec:eee:respol:v:46:y:2017:i:9:p:1580-1594 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. David Popp & Nidhi Santen & Karen Fisher-Vanden & Mort Webster, 2012. "Technology Variation vs. R&D Uncertainty: What Matters Most for Energy Patent Success?," NBER Working Papers 17792, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. repec:spr:scient:v:80:y:2009:i:1:d:10.1007_s11192-008-2057-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Popp, David & Newell, Richard, 2012. "Where does energy R&D come from? Examining crowding out from energy R&D," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 980-991.
    16. David Popp, 2016. "From Science to Technology: The Value of Knowledge From Different Energy Research Institutions," NBER Working Papers 22573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.


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