Where Do Ideas Come from? The Relation between Book Production and Patents from the Industrial Revolution to the Present
European Journal of Science and Theology, Vol.10, No.3, 131-147, 2014
17 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2014
Date Written: June 01, 2014
Recently, more and more use is made from book production as a measure of the long-run development of human capital. However, its relation with technology and growth is often found to be small and changing over time. In this paper we try to establish the link between book production and the spread of "ideas" as proxied by patents both over time and between regions. Two mechanisms may be distinguished. First, in the initial phase of economic development, the production of books may stimulate the accumulation of knowledge already present in society. After such an accumulation is complete, books may advance a common research focus within a certain geographic space. Indeed, applying this to the case of England, we find that books had a significant role on the number of patents during the second Industrial Revolution. However, when education became increasingly important, the role of books eventually broke down in the second half of the twentieth century. This pattern does not hold true for less developed regions where, due to the lack of efficient education, linguistic fragmentation, an overwhelmingly oral culture, and a structural different kind of knowledge, book production stagnated and no knowledge could be imported (for example, via translated books).
Keywords: book production, patents, ideas, education, economic development
JEL Classification: C1, N3, F63
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation