Jeffrey Clemens, Parker Rogers, 10 March 2020

Why has medical innovation brought cost-increasing enhancements to quality, rather than cost-reducing advances in productivity? The column uses a new dataset drawn from patents for prosthetic devices to show that the design of incentives for innovators can have substantial effects on these margins. Fixed-price procurement arrangements induce greater effort to reduce production costs than cost-plus procurement arrangements. Procurement models may therefore inadvertently lead to 'missing innovations'.

Dany Bahar, Raj Choudhury, Hillel Rapoport, 28 February 2020

There is considerable historical and contemporary evidence of the linkages between skilled migration and innovation, suggesting that one of the most important engines of economic growth stands to be strongly negatively affected by the growing backlash against migration around the world. Based on a 95-country sample spanning several decades, this column shows that migrant inventors play an important role in shaping the patent production of their destination countries. Arguably, these dynamics – driven by migrant inventors – can also affect broader economic outcomes, given the secondary effects of patenting and innovation on productivity and firm performance.

William Kerr, 31 January 2020

Why are cities so keen to create their own technology clusters, and why is it so difficult? Bill Kerr of Harvard Business School tells Tim Phillips what economists know (and don't know) about where tech clusters come from

Enrico Moretti, Claudia Steinwender, John Van Reenen, 18 December 2019

Defence R&D is a major component of government-sponsored R&D in many developed economies, and the effect of defence R&D expenditures on private sector innovation and economic growth has been a hotly debated topic for many years. This column presents a systematic analysis across all OECD countries which suggests that a 10% increase in defence R&D results in a 4% increase in private R&D. It also reveals evidence of spillovers between countries, with increases in government-funded R&D in one country appearing to increase private R&D spending in the same industry in other countries.

Henrique Basso, Juan F Jimeno, 29 November 2019

Advanced economies will face large demographic and radical technological change in the next decades. This column shows how demographics and endogenous technological changes, which encompass both innovation and automation, can interact to limit the future prospects for growth and alter the factor income distribution. Due to a trade-off between innovation and automation, lower fertility and population ageing are likely to generate more automation, but also lead to a reduction in GDP per capita growth and the labour income share.

Hans Gersbach, Ulrich Schetter, Samuel Schmassmann, 28 November 2019

We do not know how much basic research is desirable from a national and global perspective, and in which industries. This column describes the insights from a new multi-country, multi-industry framework with international trade. It shows that global investments in basic research are too low, too heavily concentrated in industrialised countries, and not sufficiently targeted towards high-tech industries.

Philippe Aghion, Sergei Guriev, Kangchul Jo, 07 November 2019

Moving from low- to high-income status implies that countries escape the middle-income trap. This implies institutional reform to create innovation-based growth. The column uses firm-level data to show how the Korean government's chaebol reforms in the late 1990s transformed the economy from an investment-based to an innovation-based model. There are lessons here for China.

Alberto Galasso, Hong Luo, 30 October 2019

Higher risk perception may suppress demand for a product class and chill R&D investment, or increase the incentive to innovate risk-mitigating technologies. The column uses media coverage of accidents involving CT scanners to investigate the impact on firm innovation. Higher public risk perception increased patent applications and the rate of new product innovation, even without changes in liability or regulation.

Sotiris Blanas, Gino Gancia, Tim Lee, 10 October 2019

Since the early 1980s, technology has reduced the demand for low and medium-skill workers, the young, and women, especially in manufacturing industries. The column investigates which technologies have had the largest effect, and on which types of worker. It finds that robots and software raised the demand for high-skill workers, older workers, and men, especially in service industries. 

Jon Frost, Leonardo Gambacorta, Yi Huang, Hyun Song Shin, Pablo Zbinden, 04 October 2019

BigTech firms are entering finance, and their access to massive amounts of information may give them an edge in areas like credit assessment and beyond. This column assesses the economic forces behind the adoption of Big Tech services in finance. It shows that BigTech lenders thrive in countries with less competitive banks and less strict regulation, and that they have an information advantage from the use of big data and machine learning.

Ufuk Akcigit, Emin Dinlersoz, Jeremy Greenwood, Veronika Penciakova, 24 September 2019

Differences between the majority of mediocre firms and the exceptional, innovative ones range from the founders’ backgrounds to their paths of innovation. This column assesses the impact of venture capital funding on the growth trajectories firms take. Employment and patenting data show venture capital-backed firms are likely to achieve greater success and contribute more significantly to the aggregate economy. The absence of venture capital funding would lower aggregate growth by 28%.

Philippe Aghion, Antonin Bergeaud, Gilbert Cette, Rémy Lecat, Helene Maghin, 13 September 2019

The impact of access to credit on productivity is not as straightforward as it seems.This column introduces a model that emphasises the coexistence of two opposing effects. Tighter access to credit makes it more difficult for entrepreneurs to invest and innovate, with detrimental long-run effects on productivity. But it also drives less efficient incumbent firms out of the market, easing the entry of new and potentially more efficient innovators. Combining these two opposite effects, the overall relationship between credit access and productivity takes the shape of an inverted-U.

Michele Pezzoni, Reinhilde Veugelers, Fabiana Visentin, 03 September 2019

The diffusion of novel technologies plays a crucial role in stimulating economic growth, but when a novel technology appears it is difficult to predict its later diffusion trajectory in terms of follow-on inventions. This column shows how the antecedents of a novel technology characterise its diffusion pattern by identifying the diffusion trajectories for a large sample of novel technologies using large-scale patent information. Riskier types of novel technologies, while having a larger technological impact, are taken up more slowly.

Robert J. Gordon, Hassan Sayed, 29 August 2019

Since 2005, productivity growth in the US and Europe has dipped below 1%. Using new industry-level from the US and ten EU countries, this column shows that that the industrial composition of the slowdown was similar in Europe and the US. Falling multifactor productivity growth explains both the magnitude and composition of falling productivity growth on both sides of the Atlantic. Decelerating technical change, rather than slowing investment, was the primary driving force in the transatlantic slowdown. 

Lene Kromann, Anders Sørensen, 15 July 2019

The automation of production processes is an important topic on the policy agenda in high-wage countries, but evidence of the economic effects of automation at the firm level is limited. This column presents insights on automation from new survey data for Denmark. The findings reveal that variation in the adoption of automation technologies is high, the change in adoption over time is slow, and almost half of Danish manufacturing firms relied greatly on manual production processes in 2010. Increasing international competition from China is a driver for investments in automation.

Ufuk Akcigit, Sina T. Ates, 04 July 2019

The US economy has witnessed a number of striking trends that indicate rising market concentration and a slowdown in business dynamism in recent decades. This column uses a micro-founded model of endogenous firm dynamics to show that a decline in the intensity of knowledge diffusion from frontier firms to laggard ones plays a key role in the observed shifts. It presents new evidence on higher concentration of patenting in the hands of firms with the largest stock that corroborates declining knowledge diffusion in the economy. 

Martin Watzinger, Monika Schnitzer, 21 June 2019

The role of science is the subject of controversial debate in the academic literature and public discourse. This column studies US patents to establish three new facts about the relationship between science and the value of private-sector inventions. First, patents building on science are on average $2.9 million more valuable than patents unrelated to science. Second, the novelty of patents predicts their value in a similar way as their science content does. Third, science-based patents are more novel. Taken together, these observations show that science introduces new concepts that are valuable for marketplace inventions.

Johannes Eugster, Giang Ho, Florence Jaumotte, Roberto Piazza, 12 June 2019

Technology diffusion to emerging markets helps share growth potential across countries and lift global living standards. Using a global patent citation dataset, this column estimates the magnitude and impact of international knowledge and technology diffusion, as well as the role that globalisation has played. In emerging markets, knowledge flows have increased innovation and productivity. Competition from emerging markets benefits global innovation.

Ramy El-Dardiry, Bastiaan Overvest, Michiel Bijlsma, 24 May 2019

Digitalisation is transforming human life – from the way we interact with each other to the way we work, relax, and create. R&D within companies is no exception. This column lays out pathways for policymakers to successfully adapt R&D policies to these changes based on three guiding principles: direct policies towards spillovers, make policies technology-neutral, and do not favour superstars over challengers.

Mónica Correa-López, Beatriz de Blas, 23 April 2019

Since the end of WWII, advanced economies have experienced long-lasting swings in economic activity. This column takes a look at the historical data and finds that, over the medium term, output and investment fluctuations among European countries have been even more volatile and persistent than in the US. It also reveals that, by diffusing embodied technology through trade inintermediates, large US firms appear to drive Europe's output over the medium term. 



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