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Productivity and Propensity: The Two Faces of the R&D-Patent Relationship


  • Gaétan de Rassenfosse


This paper tackles one of the most persistent criticism of patent statistics. Because not all inventions are patented, the patent-to-R&D ratio reflects both a productivity effect (the number of inventions created per unit of research input) and a propensity effect (the proportion of inventions patented). We propose a solution to this identification problem. Our methodology uses information on the density of patent value and leads to results that are easy to interpret. It is applied to a novel data set of priority patent applications in which each patent is fractionally allocated to its inventors’ countries and to the technological areas to which it belongs. Interestingly, it is frequently observed that an industry may exhibit a low number of patents per unit of R&D in one country yet actually be more productive than the same industry in another country where the patentto-R&D ratio is higher.

Suggested Citation

  • Gaétan de Rassenfosse, 2010. "Productivity and Propensity: The Two Faces of the R&D-Patent Relationship," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2010-025, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:eca:wpaper:2013/59648

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. de Rassenfosse, Gaetan & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno, 2009. "A policy insight into the R&D-patent relationship," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 779-792, June.
    2. Bruno Pottelsberghe de la Potterie & Nicolas Zeebroeck, 2008. "A brief history of space and time: The scope-year index as a patent value indicator based on families and renewals," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 75(2), pages 319-338, May.
    3. Gaétan de Rassenfosse & Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, 2007. "Per un pugno di dollari: a first look at the price elasticity of patents," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(4), pages 558-604, Winter.
    4. Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2011. "The puzzle of patent value indicators," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(1), pages 33-62.
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    1. repec:wsi:ijitmx:v:14:y:2017:i:03:n:s0219877017500158 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    identification strategy; patent family; patent value; research productivity; propensity to patent;

    JEL classification:

    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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