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

See all articles by Aurelian P. Plopeanu

Aurelian P. Plopeanu

Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Department of Research

Peter Foldvari

Utrecht University

Bas van Leeuwen

Utrecht University, Humanities; Free University, Humanities; Warwick University, Department of Economics

Jan Luiten Van Zanden

Utrecht University

Date Written: June 01, 2014

Abstract

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

Plopeanu, Aurelian P. and Foldvari, Peter and van Leeuwen, Bas and Van Zanden, Jan Luiten, Where Do Ideas Come from? The Relation between Book Production and Patents from the Industrial Revolution to the Present (June 01, 2014). European Journal of Science and Theology, Vol.10, No.3, 131-147, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2512336

Aurelian P. Plopeanu (Contact Author)

Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Department of Research ( email )

Romania

Peter Foldvari

Utrecht University

Bas Van Leeuwen

Utrecht University, Humanities ( email )

Vredenburg 138
Utrecht, 3511 BG
Netherlands

Free University, Humanities ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, ND North Holland 1081 HV
Netherlands

Warwick University, Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Jan Luiten Van Zanden

Utrecht University

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