In this paper, we argue that economic societies, established during the eighteenth-century, contributed to industrialization through the diffusion of new ideasgenerated during the Scientific Revolution in Europe. Local societies functioned as catalysts for the translation of scientific knowledge into useful
knowledge and for its diffusion to interested parties. We test this hypothesis by combining information on more than 3,300 society members from the membership lists of all active economic societies in the German lands with several measures of innovation and upper-tail human capital. We find a robust positive relationship between local member density and the number of valuable patents, exhibitors at world fair, and highly-skilled mechanical workers. We find also that
grid-cell pairs with members from the same society have higher technological similarity. We interpret this result as evidence that economic societies
generated information networks which fostered spatial knowledge diffusion and thus shaped the geography of innovation.
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