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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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File URL: http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/pdf/fleisher/wp09-07.pdf
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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. Arundel, Anthony, 2001. "The relative effectiveness of patents and secrecy for appropriation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 611-624, April.
  2. 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.
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  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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  8. M. Scott Taylor, 1993. "TRIPS, Trade, and Technology Transfer," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(3), pages 625-37, August.
  9. Yueh, Linda, 2009. "Patent laws and innovation in China," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 304-313, December.
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  11. Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Innovation, Imitation, and Intellectual Property Rights," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(6), pages 1247-80, November.
  12. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1989. "Quality Ladders and Product Cycles," NBER Working Papers 3201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Fleisher, Belton M. & Li, Haizheng & Zhao, Min Qiang, 2007. "Human Capital, Economic Growth, and Regional Inequality in China," IZA Discussion Papers 2703, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. 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.
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  18. Keith Maskus, 1998. "The international regulation of intellectual property," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 134(2), pages 186-208, June.
  19. Thomas Hatzichronoglou, 1997. "Revision of the High-Technology Sector and Product Classification," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 1997/2, OECD Publishing.
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  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. 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.
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  27. 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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