Productivity, R&D, and Basic Research at the Firm Level in the 1970s

39 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2004 Last revised: 25 Sep 2021

Date Written: 1985


A new data set (the NSF-Census match) containing information on the R&D expenditures, sales, employment, and other detail for approximately 1,000 largest manufacturing firms in the U.S. during 1957-1977 is analyzed using a standard production function framework augmented by the addition of an R&D "capital" and "mix" variables (basic as a fraction of total and privately financed as a fraction of total). The results indicate that R&D continued to contribute to productivity growth in U.S. manufacturing also in the 1970's, with no significant decline in its effectiveness as com-pared to the 1960's; that the contribution of the basic research component of such expenditures was significantly higher than its nominal ratio would imply; and that while federally financed R&D expenditures did have a positive effect on measured productivity growth of these firms, this effect was significantly smaller than the comparable contribution of privately financed R&D expenditures.

Suggested Citation

Griliches, Zvi, Productivity, R&D, and Basic Research at the Firm Level in the 1970s (1985). NBER Working Paper No. w1547, Available at SSRN:

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