The Rise of American Ingenuity: Innovation and Inventors of the Golden Age

88 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2017  

Ufuk Akcigit

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)

John Grigsby

University of Chicago

Tom Nicholas

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2017

Abstract

We examine the golden age of US innovation by undertaking a major data collection exercise linking US patents to state and county-level aggregates and matching inventors to Federal Censuses between 1880 and 1940. We identify a causal relationship between patented inventions and long run economic growth and outline a basic framework for analyzing key macro and micro-level determinants. We explore drivers of regional performance including population density, financial development, geographic connectedness and social structure. We then profile the characteristics of inventors and their life cycle, measure the returns to technological development, and document the relationship between innovation, inequality and social mobility. Our new data help to address important questions related to innovation and long-run growth dynamics.

Keywords: census, demographics, Earnings, growth, innovation, inventors, migration, patents

JEL Classification: N11, N12, O31, O40

Suggested Citation

Akcigit, Ufuk and Grigsby, John and Nicholas, Tom, The Rise of American Ingenuity: Innovation and Inventors of the Golden Age (January 2017). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11755. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2896045

Ufuk Akcigit (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 E. 59th St
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ufukakcigit.com

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

John Grigsby

University of Chicago ( email )

Tom Nicholas

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

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