The Geography of Research and Development Activity in the U.S.

44 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2009 Last revised: 21 Nov 2019

See all articles by Kristy Buzard

Kristy Buzard

Syracuse University - Department of Economics

Gerald A. Carlino

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Date Written: August 1, 2009


This study details the location patterns of R&D labs in the U.S., but it differs from past studies in a number of ways. First, rather than looking at the geographic concentration of manufacturing firms (e.g., Ellison and Glaeser, 1997; Rosenthal and Strange, 2001; and Duranton and Overman, 2005), the authors consider the spatial concentration of private R&D activity. Second, rather than focusing on the concentration of employment in a given industry, the authors look at the clustering of individual R&D labs by industry. Third, following Duranton and Overman (2005), the authors look for geographic clusters of labs that represent statistically significant departures from spatial randomness using simulation techniques. The authors find that R&D activity for most industries tends to be concentrated in the Northeast corridor, around the Great Lakes, in California's Bay Area, and in southern California. They argue that the high spatial concentration of R&D activity facilitates the exchange of ideas among firms and aids in the creation of new goods and new ways of producing existing goods. They run a regression of an Ellison and Glaeser (1997) style index measuring the spatial concentration of R&D labs on geographic proxies for knowledge spillovers and other characteristics and find evidence that localized knowledge spillovers are important for innovative activity.

Keywords: Agglomeration economies, Knowledge spillovers, Urban density, Innovation

JEL Classification: O31, R11

Suggested Citation

Buzard, Kristy and Carlino, Gerald A., The Geography of Research and Development Activity in the U.S. (August 1, 2009). FRB of Philadelphia Working Paper No. 09-16, Available at SSRN: or

Kristy Buzard (Contact Author)

Syracuse University - Department of Economics ( email )

Syracuse, NY 13244-1020
United States


Gerald A. Carlino

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia ( email )

Ten Independence Mall
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1574
United States
215-574-6434 (Phone)
215-574-4364 (Fax)

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