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The Rise of American Ingenuity: Innovation and Inventors of the Golden Age

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  • Akcigit, Ufuk
  • Grigsby, John
  • Nicholas, Tom

Abstract

We examine the golden age of US innovation by undertaking a major data collection exercise linking US patents to state and county-level aggregates and matching inventors to Federal Censuses between 1880 and 1940. We identify a causal relationship between patented inventions and long run economic growth and outline a basic framework for analyzing key macro and micro-level determinants. We explore drivers of regional performance including population density, financial development, geographic connectedness and social structure. We then profile the characteristics of inventors and their life cycle, measure the returns to technological development, and document the relationship between innovation, inequality and social mobility. Our new data help to address important questions related to innovation and long-run growth dynamics.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11755
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Aghion, Philippe & Akcigit, Ufuk & Hyytinen, Ari & Toivanen, Otto, 2017. "The social origins of inventors," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86619, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. John V. Winters, 2017. "Do Native STEM Graduates Increase Innovation? Evidence from U.S. Metropolitan Areas," Economics Working Paper Series 1714, Oklahoma State University, Department of Economics and Legal Studies in Business.
    3. Amrita Saha & Tommaso Ciarli, 2018. "Innovation, Structural Change, and Inclusion. A Cross Country PVAR Analysis," SPRU Working Paper Series 2018-01, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    4. Daniel Andrei & Bruce I. Carlin, 2017. "Asset Pricing in the Quest for the New El Dorado," NBER Working Papers 23455, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Mustafa Caglayan & Alessandro Flamini & Babak Jahanshahi, 2017. "Organized Crime and Technology," DEM Working Papers Series 136, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Management.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    census; demographics; Earnings; growth; innovation; inventors; migration; patents;

    JEL classification:

    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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