The Agglomeration of US Ethnic Inventors

41 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2008

See all articles by William Kerr

William Kerr

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 17, 2008


The ethnic composition of US inventors is undergoing a significant transformation - with deep impacts for the overall agglomeration of US innovation. This study applies an ethnic-name database to individual US patent records to explore these trends with greater detail. The contributions of Chinese and Indian scientists and engineers to US technology formation increase dramatically in the 1990s. At the same time, these ethnic inventors became more spatially concentrated across US cities. The combination of these two factors helps stop and reverse long-term declines in overall inventor agglomeration evident in the 1970s and 1980s. The heightened ethnic agglomeration is particularly evident in industry patents for high-tech sectors, and similar trends are not found in institutions constrained from agglomerating (e.g., universities, government).

Keywords: Agglomeration, Innovation, Research and Development, Patents, Scientists, Engineers, Inventors, Ethnicity, Immigration

JEL Classification: F15, F22, J44, J61, O31

Suggested Citation

Kerr, William R., The Agglomeration of US Ethnic Inventors (July 17, 2008). Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial Management Working Paper No. 09-003, Available at SSRN: or

William R. Kerr (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit ( email )

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Morgan 270C
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