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Patterns of Innovation during the Industrial Revolution: a Reappraisal using a Composite Indicator of Patent Quality

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  • Alessandro Nuvolari
  • Valentina Tartari
  • Matteo Tranchero

Abstract

The distinction between macro- and microinventions is at the core of recent debates on the Industrial Revolution. Yet, the empirical testing of this notion has remained elusive. We address this issue by introducing a new quality indicator for all patents granted in England in the period 1700-1850. Our findings indicate that macroinventions did not exhibit any specific time-clustering, while microinventions were correlated with the economic cycle. In addition, we also find that macroinventions were characterized by a labor-saving bias and were mostly introduced by professional engineers. These results suggest that Allen's and Mokyr's views of macroinventions, rather than conflicting, should be regarded as complementary.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Nuvolari & Valentina Tartari & Matteo Tranchero, 2020. "Patterns of Innovation during the Industrial Revolution: a Reappraisal using a Composite Indicator of Patent Quality," LEM Papers Series 2020/23, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2020/23
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    Cited by:

    1. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C, 2020. "The Race between Population and Technology: Real wages in the First Industrial Revolution," CEPR Discussion Papers 15174, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Billington, Stephen D., 2021. "What explains patenting behaviour during Britain’s Industrial Revolution?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    3. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C., 2020. "Considering the counterfactual: Real wages in the First Industrial Revolution," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 502, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    4. Nicholas Crafts, 2021. "Understanding productivity growth in the industrial revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 74(2), pages 309-338, May.

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    Keywords

    Industrial Revolution; Patents; Macroinventions; Microinventions;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N74 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: 1913-
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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