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Are Patent Laws Harmful to Developing Countries? Evidence from China

  • Belton M. Fleisher

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Ohio State University)

  • Mi Zhou

    ()

    (College of Economics and Trade, Hunan University)

Has upgrading and enforcing its patent laws slowed China’s economic growth? The answer we draw from detailed analysis of provincial aggregate data covering roughly the period 1990 through 2007 is strongly negative, but understanding the channels through which stricter protection of intellectual property rights has contributed to more rapid productivity growth is elusive. Our best estimate of the direct impact of the 1992 and 2001 patent laws on TFP growth amounts to not quite 15 percent of the average TFP growth rate over the period, but a much larger share of TFP growth is associated with enactment of the laws in a simple interpretation of our empirical investigation. We estimate that virtually none of the laws’ impact on TFP growth can be directly associated with increased quantity of FDI or R&D, although both series are strongly positively correlated with promulgation of the patent laws. We infer that amount of technology transfer through a FDI and the focus of R&D activity, decline of state ownership and increased marketization, growth of the human capital stock, and movement of the labor force from agriculture to manufacturing and service industries are all processes that were encouraged and whose effect has been magnified by stronger IPR protection. Moreover, adopting and enforcing the patent laws probably cannot be treated as an independent event with causation running in only one direction to China’s economic development..

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Paper provided by Ohio State University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 09-07.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:osu:osuewp:09-07
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  1. Belton Fleisher & Haizheng Li & Min-Qiang Zhao, 2009. "Human Capital, Economic Growth, and Regional Inequality in China," Working Papers 09-01, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  2. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S71-102, October.
  3. Yang, Lei & Maskus, Keith E., 2009. "Intellectual property rights, technology transfer and exports in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 231-236, November.
  4. Chen, Yongmin & Puttitanun, Thitima, 2005. "Intellectual property rights and innovation in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 474-493, December.
  5. Guifang Yang & Keith Maskus, 2001. "Intellectual property rights and licensing: An econometric investigation," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 137(1), pages 58-79, March.
  6. Albert G. Z. Hu & Gary H. Jefferson & Qian Jinchang, 2005. "R&D and Technology Transfer: Firm-Level Evidence from Chinese Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(4), pages 780-786, November.
  7. Deardorff, Alan V, 1992. "Welfare Effects of Global Patent Protection," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 59(233), pages 35-51, February.
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  9. Jefferson, Gary & Hu, Albert G. Z. & Guan, Xiaojing & Yu, Xiaoyun, 2003. "Ownership, performance, and innovation in China's large- and medium-size industrial enterprise sector," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 89-113.
  10. Ishac Diwan & Dani Rodrik, 1989. "Patents, Appropriate Technology, and North-South Trade," NBER Working Papers 2974, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. M. Scott Taylor, 1993. "TRIPS, Trade, and Technology Transfer," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(3), pages 625-37, August.
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  13. Wolff, Edward N, 1991. "Capital Formation and Productivity Convergence over the Long Term," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 565-79, June.
  14. Keith Maskus, 1998. "The international regulation of intellectual property," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 134(2), pages 186-208, June.
  15. Helpman, E., 1992. "Innovation, Imitation and intellectual Property Rights," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1597, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  16. Liu, Zhiqiang, 2008. "Foreign direct investment and technology spillovers: Theory and evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1-2), pages 176-193, February.
  17. Mansfield, Edwin & Schwartz, Mark & Wagner, Samuel, 1981. "Imitation Costs and Patents: An Empirical Study," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(364), pages 907-18, December.
  18. Yueh, Linda, 2009. "Patent laws and innovation in China," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 304-313, December.
  19. Arundel, Anthony, 2001. "The relative effectiveness of patents and secrecy for appropriation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 611-624, April.
  20. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1989. "Quality Ladders And Product Cycles," Papers 152, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  21. Petra Moser, 2005. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World's Fairs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1214-1236, September.
  22. Li, Xiaoying & Liu, Xiaming, 2005. "Foreign Direct Investment and Economic Growth: An Increasingly Endogenous Relationship," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 393-407, March.
  23. Glass, Amy Jocelyn & Saggi, Kamal, 2002. "Intellectual property rights and foreign direct investment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 387-410, March.
  24. Hu, Albert Guangzhou & Jefferson, Gary H., 2009. "A great wall of patents: What is behind China's recent patent explosion?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 57-68, September.
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  26. Thomas Hatzichronoglou, 1997. "Revision of the High-Technology Sector and Product Classification," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 1997/2, OECD Publishing.
  27. Maskus, Keith E. & Penubarti, Mohan, 1995. "How trade-related are intellectual property rights?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 227-248, November.
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