Tracing the Impact of a General Purpose Technology: The Case of Electricity

56 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2018 Last revised: 22 May 2019

See all articles by Sergio Petralia

Sergio Petralia

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: May 14, 2019

Abstract

It has been argued that General Purpose Technologies (GPTs) have the power to change the pace and direction of economic progress. While theoretical models have advanced greatly, providing a precise and coherent characterization of the economic implications of the adoption of a GPT, empirical evidence remains scattered and unclear. Using novel data on patenting activity at the county level that dates back to 1836, this article documents the positive impact of the active adoption of Electrical & Electronic (E&E) technologies, the canonical example of a GPT, on income per capita growth and wages in the U. S. between 1900 and 1930.

Keywords: Disruptive Technological Change, Geographical Diffusion, Historical Patent Documents.

JEL Classification: O33, O31, O30.

Suggested Citation

Petralia, Sergio, Tracing the Impact of a General Purpose Technology: The Case of Electricity (May 14, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3144071 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3144071

Sergio Petralia (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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