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Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Patterns of innovation during the industrial revolution: a reappraisal using a composite indicator of patent quality

Author(s): Alessandro Nuvolari, Valentina Tartari and Matteo Tranchero

Publication Date: August 2019

Keyword(s): industrial revolution, macroinventions, microinventions and patents

Programme Area(s): Economic History

Abstract: The distinction between macro- and microinventions is at the core of recent debates on the Industrial Revolution. Yet, the empirical testing of this notion has remained elusive. We address this issue by introducing a new quality indicator for all patents granted in England in the period 1700-1850. Our findings indicate that macroinventions did not exhibit any specific time-clustering, while micro-inventions were, instead, correlated with the economic cycle. In addition, we also find were characterized by a labour-saving bias. These results suggest that Allen's and Mokyr's view of macro-inventions rather than conflicting should be regarded as complementary.

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Bibliographic Reference

Nuvolari, A, Tartari, V and Tranchero, M. 2019. 'Patterns of innovation during the industrial revolution: a reappraisal using a composite indicator of patent quality'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research. https://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=13958