Breakthrough Inventions and Migrating Clusters of Innovation

41 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2009 Last revised: 29 Oct 2014

See all articles by William Kerr

William Kerr

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

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Date Written: October 2009

Abstract

We investigate the speed at which clusters of invention for a technology migrate spatially following breakthrough inventions. We identify breakthrough inventions as the top one percent of US inventions for a technology during 1975-1984 in terms of subsequent citations. Patenting growth is significantly higher in cities and technologies where breakthrough inventions occur after 1984 relative to peer locations that do not experience breakthrough inventions. This growth differential in turn depends on the mobility of the technology's labor force, which we model through the extent that technologies depend upon immigrant scientists and engineers. Spatial adjustments are faster for technologies that depend heavily on immigrant inventors. The results qualitatively confirm the mechanism of industry migration proposed in models like Duranton (2007).

Suggested Citation

Kerr, William R., Breakthrough Inventions and Migrating Clusters of Innovation (October 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15443. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1498945

William R. Kerr (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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