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Foreign Competition and Domestic Innovation: Evidence from U.S. Patents

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Listed:
  • Autor, David
  • Dorn, David
  • Hanson, Gordon
  • Pisano, Gary
  • Shu, Pian

Abstract

Manufacturing is the locus of U.S. innovation, accounting for more than three quarters of U.S. corporate patents. The rise of import competition from China has represented a major competitive shock to the sector, which in theory could benefit or stifle innovation. In this paper we empirically examine how rising import competition from China has affected U.S. innovation. We confront two empirical challenges in assessing the impact. We map all U.S. utility patents granted by March 2013 to firm-level data using a novel internet-based matching algorithm that corrects for a preponderance of false negatives when using firm names alone. And we contend with the fact that patenting is highly concentrated in certain product categories and that this concentration has been shifting over time. Accounting for secular trends in innovative activities, we find that the impact of the change in import exposure on the change in patents produced is strongly negative. It remains so once we add an extensive set of further industry- and firm-level controls. Rising import exposure also reduces global employment, global sales, and global R&D expenditure at the firm level. It would appear that a simple mechanism in which greater foreign competition induces U.S. manufacturing firms to contract their operations along multiple margins of activity goes a long way toward explaining the response of U.S. innovation to the China trade shock.

Suggested Citation

  • Autor, David & Dorn, David & Hanson, Gordon & Pisano, Gary & Shu, Pian, 2016. "Foreign Competition and Domestic Innovation: Evidence from U.S. Patents," CEPR Discussion Papers 11664, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11664
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. International Monetary Fund [IMF], 2018. "World Economic Outlook, April 2018: Cyclical Upswing, Structural Change," Working Papers id:12768, eSocialSciences.
    2. Laura Alfaro & Alejandro Cuñat & Harald Fadinger & Yanping Liu, 2017. "The Real Exchange Rate, Innovation and Asymmetries and Hysteresis," Harvard Business School Working Papers 18-044, Harvard Business School, revised May 2018.
    3. repec:eee:finana:v:53:y:2017:i:c:p:37-47 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Teresa C. Fort & Justin R. Pierce & Peter K. Schott, 2018. "New Perspectives on the Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Employment," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2018-023, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. Philippe Aghion, Antonin Bergeaud, Matthieu Lequien, Marc J. Melitz, 2018. "The Impact of Exports on Innovation: Theory and Evidence," Working papers 678, Banque de France.
    6. Epifani, Paolo & Gancia, Gino, 2017. "Global imbalances revisited: The transfer problem and transport costs in monopolistic competition," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 99-116.
    7. Justin R. Pierce & Peter K. Schott, 2017. "Investment Responses to Trade Liberalization : Evidence from U.S. Industries and Establishments," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-120, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. repec:sls:ipmsls:v:32:y:2017:4 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Ufuk Akcigit, 2017. "Innovation and Trade Policy in a Globalizing World," 2017 Meeting Papers 1627, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    10. Germán Gutiérrez & Thomas Philippon, 2017. "Declining Competition and Investment in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 23583, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Uwe Cantner & Holger Graf & Ekaterina Prytkova & Simone Vannuccini, 2018. "The Compositional Nature of Productivity and Innovation Slowdown," Jena Economic Research Papers 2018-006, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    12. YAMASHITA Nobuaki & YAMAUCHI Isamu, 2017. "Innovation Responses of Japanese Firms to Chinese Import Competition," Discussion papers 17126, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    13. Coricelli, Fabrizio & Ravasan, Farshad R, 2017. "Structural Change and the China Syndrome: Baumol vs Trade Effects," CEPR Discussion Papers 12069, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Ufuk Akcigit & Sina T. Ates & Giammario Impullitti, 2018. "Innovation and Trade Policy in a Globalized World," Working Papers id:12756, eSocialSciences.
    15. repec:wfo:wstudy:59290 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. repec:eee:finmar:v:39:y:2018:i:c:p:44-67 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. repec:eee:jimfin:v:85:y:2018:i:c:p:124-144 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Muendler, Marc-Andreas, 2017. "Trade, technology, and prosperity: An account of evidence from a labor-market perspective," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2017-15, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
    19. Alfaro, Laura & Cunat, Alejandro & Fadinger, Harald & Yanping, Liu, 2017. "The real exchange rate, innovation and productivity," Working Papers 17-04, University of Mannheim, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    China; firms; import competition; innovation; patents; Trade;

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F6 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • 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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