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Invention and diffusion of water supply and water efficiency technologies: insights from a global patent dataset

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  • Conway, Declan
  • Dechezlepretre, Antoine
  • Haščič, Ivan
  • Johnstone, Nick

Abstract

This paper identifies over 50 000 patents filed worldwide in various water-related technologies between 1990 and 2010, distinguishing between those related to availability (supply) and conservation (demand) technologies. Patenting activity is analysed – including inventive activity by country and technology, international diffusion of such water-related technologies, and international collaboration in technology development. Three results stand out from our analysis. First, although inventive activity in water-related technologies has been increasing over the last two decades, this growth has been disproportionately concentrated on supply-side technologies. Second, whilst 80% of water-related invention worldwide occurs in countries with low or moderate water scarcity, several countries with absolute or chronic water scarcity are relatively specialized in water efficiency technologies. Finally, although we observe a positive correlation between water scarcity and local filings of water patents, some countries with high water availability, in particular Switzerland or Norway, nevertheless appear as significant markets for water-efficiency technologies. This suggests that drivers other than local demand, like regulation and social and cultural factors, play a role in explaining the global flows of technologies. And finally, the extent to which innovation is "internationalised" shows some distinct patterns relative to those observed for innovation in technologies in general.

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  • Conway, Declan & Dechezlepretre, Antoine & Haščič, Ivan & Johnstone, Nick, 2015. "Invention and diffusion of water supply and water efficiency technologies: insights from a global patent dataset," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 62607, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:62607
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/62607/
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    Cited by:

    1. Hongxiu Li & Horatiu Rus, 2018. "Water Innovation and Water Governance: Adaptive Responses to Regulatory Change and Extreme Weather Events," Working Papers 1801, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2018.
    2. Zheming Yan & Lan Yi & Kerui Du & Zhiming Yang, 2017. "Impacts of Low-Carbon Innovation and Its Heterogeneous Components on CO 2 Emissions," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(4), pages 1-14, April.
    3. David Popp, 2019. "Environmental Policy and Innovation: A Decade of Research," NBER Working Papers 25631, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. David Popp, 2019. "Environmental policy and innovation: a decade of research," CESifo Working Paper Series 7544, CESifo.
    5. Yan, Zheming & Du, Keru & Yang, Zhiming & Deng, Min, 2017. "Convergence or divergence? Understanding the global development trend of low-carbon technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 499-509.
    6. Sam Fankhauser, 2016. "Adaptation to climate change," GRI Working Papers 255, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    water security; resource scarcity; invention; international technology diffusion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • Q31 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation

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