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Inventive Activity in Early Industrial America: Evidence From Patent Records, 1790 - 1846


  • Kenneth L. Sokoloff


A sample of patent records from the United States between 1790 and 1846 is employed to study the patterns in inventive activity. Patenting was pro-cyclical, and yet began to grow rapidly with the interruptions in foreign trade that preceded the War of 1812. A strong association between patenting and proximity to navigable waterways is also demonstrated. Although the importance of specific mechanisms remains unclear, both the temporal and cross-sectional evidence imply that inventive activity was positively related to the growth of markets during early industrialization.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 1988. "Inventive Activity in Early Industrial America: Evidence From Patent Records, 1790 - 1846," NBER Working Papers 2707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2707
    Note: DAE

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    1. George A. Akerlof & Hajime Miyazaki, 1980. "The Implicit Contract Theory of Unemployment meets the Wage Bill Argument," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(2), pages 321-338.
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    5. J. Peter Neary, 1982. "Intersectoral Capital Mobility, Wage Stickiness, and the Case for Adjustment Assistance," NBER Chapters,in: Import Competition and Response, pages 39-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Richard A. Brecher, 1974. "Minimum Wage Rates and the Pure Theory of International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(1), pages 98-116.
    7. Martin Neil Baily, 1974. "Wages and Employment under Uncertain Demand," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(1), pages 37-50.
    8. Horn, Henrik & Svensson, Lars E O, 1986. "Trade Unions and Optimal Labour Contracts," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(382), pages 323-341, June.
    9. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
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