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Where do ideas come from? Book production and patents in global and temporal perspective

Author

Listed:
  • Aurelian Plopeanu, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”
  • Peter Foldvari
  • Bas van Leeuwen
  • Jan Luiten van Zanden

    (Universiteit Utrecht and Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Abstract

In this paper we try to establish the link between book production and the spread of “ideas” as proxied by patents. Two mechanisms may be distinguished. First, in the initial phase of economic development, the production of books may stimulate the accumulation of knowledge already present in society. After such an accumulation is complete, books may stimulate a common research focus within a certain geographic space. Applying this to the case of England, we find that books indeed had a significant on the number of patents during the second Industrial Revolution. However, when education became increasingly important, the role of books eventually broke down in the second half of the twentieth century. This pattern does not hold true for less developed regions where, due to the lack of efficient education, linguistic fragmentation, an overwhelmingly oral culture, and a structural different kind of knowledge, book production stagnated and no knowledge could be imported (for example via translated books.

Suggested Citation

  • Aurelian Plopeanu, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” & Peter Foldvari & Bas van Leeuwen & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2012. "Where do ideas come from? Book production and patents in global and temporal perspective," Working Papers 0033, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0033
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    File URL: http://www.cgeh.nl/sites/default/files/WorkingPapers/CGEH.WP_.No33.Plopeanu.et_.al_.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Joerg Baten & Jan Zanden, 2008. "Book production and the onset of modern economic growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 217-235, September.
    4. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong Wha, 2013. "A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 184-198.
    5. Oded Galor, 2011. "Unified Growth Theory," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9477.
    6. Oded Galor & David N. Weil, 1998. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition," Working Papers 98-3, Brown University, Department of Economics, revised 19 Aug 1998.
    7. Buringh, Eltjo & Van Zanden, Jan Luiten, 2009. "Charting the “Rise of the West”: Manuscripts and Printed Books in Europe, A Long-Term Perspective from the Sixth through Eighteenth Centuries," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(02), pages 409-445, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jakob Brochner Madsen, 2016. "Human Accomplishment and Growth in Britain since 1270: The Role of Great Scientists and Education," Monash Economics Working Papers 01-16, Monash University, Department of Economics.

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    Keywords

    book production; patents; ideas; economic development; England; world;

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