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A Model of Research, Patenting, and Productivity Growth


  • Samuel Kortum


I use the aggregate behavior of three indicators of technology (employ- ment of research scientists and engineers, patented inventions, and total fac- tor productivity) to identify a plausible model of endogenous technological change. In the US (as well as in other developed countries) research em- ployment and total factor productivity have both grown, while the rate of patenting has remained relatively flat. One interpretation of these facts is that: (i) patentable inventions are becoming increasingly difficult to discover as the quality of techniques in use increases, (ii) inventions which are patented represent percentage improvements on techniques currently in use, and (iii) the size of the economy is growing, making patents increasingly valuable and justifying increased research efforts devoted to discovering them. This pa- per presents a general equilibrium search theoretic model of invention which formalizes this view.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel Kortum, 1994. "A Model of Research, Patenting, and Productivity Growth," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 37, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:bosecd:37

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Willem H. Buiter, 1999. "The EMU and the NAMU: What is the Case for North American Monetary Union?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 25(3), pages 285-305, September.
    9. Fuerst, Timothy S., 1992. "Liquidity, loanable funds, and real activity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 3-24, February.
    10. Uhlig, H.F.H.V.S. & Beetsma, R.M.W.J., 1997. "An Analysis of the Stability Pact," Discussion Paper 1997-59, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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    12. Martin Feldstein, 1997. "The Political Economy of the European Economic and Monetary Union: Political Sources of an Economic Liability," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 23-42, Fall.
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    15. Sebastian M. Saiegh & Mariano Tommasi, 1999. "Why is Argentina’s Fiscal Federalism so Inefficient? Entering the Labyrinth," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 2, pages 169-209, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Klein, Michael W. & Marion, Nancy P., 1997. "Explaining the duration of exchange-rate pegs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 387-404, December.
    2. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 1994. "International patenting and technology diffusion," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 94-35, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Daniel Johnson, 2002. ""Learning-by-Licensing": R&D and Technology Licensing in Brazilian Invention," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(3), pages 163-177.
    4. Claudio Michelacci, 2003. "Low Returns in R&D Due to the Lack of Entrepreneurial Skills," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(484), pages 207-225, January.
    5. Michelacci, Claudio, 2002. "Low Returns in R&D Due to Lack of Entrepreneurial Skills," CEPR Discussion Papers 3179, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Aurora Teixeira & Natércia Fortuna, 2003. "Human Capital, Innovation Capability and Economic Growth," FEP Working Papers 131, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    7. Aurora A. C. Teixeira, 2004. "How Has the Portuguese Innovation Capability Evolved? Estimating a Time Series of the Stock of Technological Knowledge, 1960-2001," FEP Working Papers 153, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.

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