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Foreign Competition and Domestic Innovation: Evidence from U.S. Patents

Author

Listed:
  • David Autor

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

  • David Dorn

    (University of Zurich)

  • Gary Pisano
  • Gordon Hanson

    (University of California, San Diego)

  • Pian Shu

    (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Abstract

The competitive shock to the U.S. manufacturing sector spurred by rising China import competition could either catalyze or stifle innovation. Using three distinct sources of variation to identify rising trade exposure, we provide a causal analysis of the effect of surging import competition on U.S. innovative activities. Applying a novel internet-based matching algorithm to map all U.S. utility patents granted by 2013 to firm-level data, and carefully accounting for the shifting concentration of patenting activity across sectors, we document a robust, negative impact of rising Chinese competition on firm-level and technology class-level patent production. Accompanying this fall in innovation, global employment, sales, profitability, and R&D expenditure all decline within trade-exposed firms. The trade-induced contraction along all margins of adjustment and for all measures of valuation suggest that the primary response of firms to greater import competition is to scale back their global operations.

Suggested Citation

  • David Autor & David Dorn & Gary Pisano & Gordon Hanson & Pian Shu, 2018. "Foreign Competition and Domestic Innovation: Evidence from U.S. Patents," 2018 Meeting Papers 239, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed018:239
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    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F6 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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