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Knowledge spillovers and the new economy of cities

  • Gerald A. Carlino
  • Satyajit Chatterjee
  • Robert Hunt

Despite much theorizing about the role of geographic concentration of employment in knowledge spillovers, local densities' role in promoting innovations has largely been unexamined. More often, studies have considered the effects of city size variables on innovative activity, although the role of scale was not the main focus of these studies. This paper considers the role of knowledge spillovers on innovations at the MSA level. The authors use patents per capita in an MSA as our measure of innovations in that MSA. They find that the rate of patenting is positively related to the employment density of the highly urbanized portion of an MSA (its urbanized area). Specifically, the authors find, on average, that rate of patenting is 20 percent to 30 percent greater in an MSA with a local economy that is twice as dense as the local economy of another MSA. Since local employment density doubles more than four times in the sample, the implied gains in patents per capita due to urban density are substantial. Thus, these findings confirm the widely held view that the nation’s densest locations play an important role in creating the flow of ideas that generates innovation and growth.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 01-14.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:01-14
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  1. Antonio Ciccone & Robert E. Hall, 1993. "Productivity and the Density of Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 4313, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1992. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," NBER Working Papers 3993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Wesley M Cohen & Richard R Nelson & John P Walsh, 2003. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (Or Not)," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000624, David K. Levine.
  4. J. Vernon Henderson & Ari Kuncoro & Matthew Turner, 1992. "Industrial Development in Cities," NBER Working Papers 4178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Kallal, Hedi D. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1992. "Growth in Cities," Scholarly Articles 3451309, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  7. Audretsch, David B & Feldman, Maryann P, 1996. "R&D Spillovers and the Geography of Innovation and Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 630-40, June.
  8. Robert M. Hunt, 2001. "You can patent that? Are patents on computer programs and business methods good for the new economy?," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q1, pages 5-15.
  9. Jaffe, Adam B, 1989. "Real Effects of Academic Research," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 957-70, December.
  10. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  11. Feldman, Maryann P. & Audretsch, David B., 1999. "Innovation in cities:: Science-based diversity, specialization and localized competition," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 409-429, February.
  12. Anselin, Luc & Varga, Attila & Acs, Zoltan, 1997. "Local Geographic Spillovers between University Research and High Technology Innovations," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 422-448, November.
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