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Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey

In: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence

  • Zvi Griliches
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This survey reviews the growing use of patent data in economic analysis. After describing some of the main characteristics of patents and patent data, it focuses on the use of patents as an indicator of technological change. Cross-sectional and time-series studies of the relationship of patents to R&D expenditures are reviewed, as well as scattered estimates of the distribution of patent values and the value of patent rights, the latter being based on recent analyses of European patent renewal data. Time-series trends of patents granted in the U.S. are examined and their decline in the 1970s is found to be an artifact of the budget stringencies at the Patent Office. The longer run downward trend in patents per R&D dollar is interpreted not as an indication of diminishing returns but rather as a reflection of the changing meaning of such data over time. The conclusion is reached that, in spite of many difficulties and reservations, patent data remain a unique resource for the study of technical change.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Zvi Griliches, 1998. "R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gril98-1, September.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 8351.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:8351
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    1. Stoneman, P, 1979. "Patenting Activity: A Re-evaluation of the Influence of Demand Pressures," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(4), pages 385-401, June.
    2. Kenneth L. Sokoloff & B. Zorina Khan, 1989. "The Democratization of Invention During Early Industrialization: Evidence From the United States, 1790-1846," UCLA Economics Working Papers 578, UCLA Department of Economics.
    3. Hayashi, Fumio & Inoue, Tohru, 1991. "The Relation between Firm Growth and Q with Multiple Capital Goods: Theory and Evidence from Panel Data on Japanese Firms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 731-53, May.
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    5. Faust, Konrad & Schedl, Hans, 1983. "International patent data: Their utilization for the analysis of technological developments," World Patent Information, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 144-157.
    6. Comanor, William S & Scherer, Frederic M, 1969. "Patent Statistics as a Measure of Technical Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(3), pages 392-98, May/June.
    7. Hans H. Glismann & Ernst-Jürgen Horn, 1988. "Comparative Invention Performance of Major Industrial Countries: Patterns and Explanations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 34(10), pages 1169-1187, October.
    8. Robert Evenson, 1984. "International Invention: Implications for Technology Market Analysis," NBER Chapters, in: R&D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 89-126 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Walsh, Vivien, 1984. "Invention and innovation in the chemical industry: Demand-pull or discovery-push?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 211-234, August.
    10. Manuel Trajtenberg, 1990. "A Penny for Your Quotes: Patent Citations and the Value of Innovations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 172-187, Spring.
    11. Fagerberg, Jan, 1987. "A technology gap approach to why growth rates differ," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2-4), pages 87-99, August.
    12. Ariel Pakes & Zvi Griliches, 1984. "Patents and R&D at the Firm Level: A First Look," NBER Chapters, in: R&D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 55-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Hausman, Jerry & Hall, Bronwyn H & Griliches, Zvi, 1984. "Econometric Models for Count Data with an Application to the Patents-R&D Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 909-38, July.
    14. Zvi Griliches, 1979. "Issues in Assessing the Contribution of Research and Development to Productivity Growth," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 92-116, Spring.
    15. Mowery, David C., 1983. "Industrial Research and Firm Size, Survival, and Growth in American Manufacturing, 1921–1946: An Assessment," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(04), pages 953-980, December.
    16. Carpenter, Mark P. & Narin, Francis & Woolf, Patricia, 1981. "Citation rates to technologically important patents," World Patent Information, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 160-163, October.
    17. Ariel Pakes & Mark Schankerman, 1984. "The Rate of Obsolescence of Patents, Research Gestation Lags, and the Private Rate of Return to Research Resources," NBER Chapters, in: R&D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 73-88 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Cockburn, Iain & Griliches, Zvi, 1988. "Industry Effects and Appropriability Measures in the Stock Market's Valuation of R&D and Patents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 419-23, May.
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