Ugo Gragnolati (University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) on "The Geography of Inventive Activities During the British Industrial Revolution"

Ugo Gragnolati (University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) on
Speaker:  Ugo Gragnolati - University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
  Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 12:30 PM Polo Santa Marta, Via Cantarane 24, Room 1.59
What drove the location of innovative activities during the British Industrial Revolution? This question is relevant to economics because it focuses on innovation precisely at the time in which this activity became the key engine of economic growth. Accordingly, the present project aims at measuring the industry-level determinants of the spatial distribution of patent inventors across British counties between 1700--1850.
To our knowledge, no other study in the literature has ever melded a direct focus on innovative activities in the context of a formal quantitative framework with the use of historical data, providing at the same time extensive coverage and a suitably fine spatial and technological detail. Furthermore, the present project relies on a recently developed methodology which is able to disentangle the effect of county-speci c attributes from the pull of localized externalities in deciding the spatial distribution of inventors. In particular, such an econometric framework allows for estimation on a cross section, thus being especially well-suited when observations are relatively infrequent, as is typically the case for historical data. Most importantly, though, the implications of this study are far from being relegated to the past. Indeed, a proper measurement of the determinants of inventor location at the dawn of the knowledge-based economy is a necessary condition to verify how the role of such determinants might have changed over the long term. Our study can serve precisely to establish a historical benchmark against which to compare contemporary results, possibly by means of a constant methodology. In this sense, the present project can broadly set the ground to advance our understanding of a key driver of economic growth such as innovative activities.

Programme Director
Diego Lubian

Publication date
May 1, 2017

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