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Getting Patents & Economic Data to Speak to Each Other: An ‘Algorithmic Links with Probabilities’ Approach for Joint Analyses of Patenting & Economic Activity


  • Travis J. Lybbert

    (Department Agricultural & Resource Economics, University of California, Davis)

  • Nikolas J. Zolas

    (Center for Economic Studies, United States Census Bureau)


International technological diffusion is a key determinant of cross-country differences in economic performance. While patents can be a useful proxy for innovation and technological change and diffusion, fully exploiting patent data for such economic analyses requires patents to be tied to measures of economic activity. In this paper, we describe and explore a new algorithmic approach to constructing concordances between the International Patent Classification (IPC) system that organizes patents by technical features and industry classification systems that organize economic data, such as the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC), the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC) and the Harmonized System (HS). This ‘Algorithmic Links with Probabilities’ (ALP) approach incorporates text analysis software and keyword extraction programs and applies them to a comprehensive patent dataset. We compare the results of several ALP concordances to existing technology concordances. Based on these comparisons, we select a preferred ALP approach and discuss advantages of this approach relative to conventional approaches. We conclude with a discussion on some of the possible applications of the concordance and provide a sample analysis that uses our preferred ALP concordance to analyze international patent flows based on trade patterns.

Suggested Citation

  • Travis J. Lybbert & Nikolas J. Zolas, 2012. "Getting Patents & Economic Data to Speak to Each Other: An ‘Algorithmic Links with Probabilities’ Approach for Joint Analyses of Patenting & Economic Activity," WIPO Economic Research Working Papers 05, World Intellectual Property Organization - Economics and Statistics Division, revised Oct 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:wip:wpaper:05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2006. "Globalization and the Gains From Variety," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 541-585.
    2. Harhoff, Dietmar & Hoisl, Karin & Reichl, Bettina & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno, 2009. "Patent validation at the country level--The role of fees and translation costs," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 1423-1437, November.
    3. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
    4. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 71-102, October.
    5. Eaton, Jonathan & Kortum, Samuel, 1996. "Trade in ideas Patenting and productivity in the OECD," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-4), pages 251-278, May.
    6. Michael E. Porter & Scott Stern, 2000. "Measuring the "Ideas" Production Function: Evidence from International Patent Output," NBER Working Papers 7891, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. 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.
    8. Rod Falvey & Neil Foster & David Greenaway, 2006. "Intellectual Property Rights and Economic Growth," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(4), pages 700-719, November.
    9. Comanor, William S & Scherer, Frederic M, 1969. "Patent Statistics as a Measure of Technical Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(3), pages 392-398, May/June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Berlemann, Michael & Jahn, Vera, 2014. "Governance, Firm Size and Innovative Capacity: Regional Empirical Evidence for Germany," Working Paper 150/2014, Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg.
    2. Kiebzak, Stephen & Rafert, Greg & Tucker, Catherine E., 2016. "The effect of patent litigation and patent assertion entities on entrepreneurial activity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 218-231.

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