DP12365 Creativity over Time and Space

Author(s): Michel Serafinelli, Guido Tabellini
Publication Date: October 2017
Date Revised: July 2021
Keyword(s): agglomeration, Gravity, Human Capital, Immigration, Innovation, Political Institutions
JEL(s): J24, J61, O10, R10
Programme Areas: Public Economics, Economic History, Macroeconomics and Growth
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12365

Creativity is often highly concentrated in time and space, and across different domains. What explains the formation and decay of clusters of creativity? We match data on notable individuals born in Europe between the 11th and the 19th century with historical city data. The production and attraction of creative talent is associated with city institutions that protected economic and political freedoms and promoted local autonomy. Instead, indicators of local economic conditions such as city size and real wages, do not predict creative clusters. We also show that famous creatives are spatially concentrated and clustered across disciplines, that their spatial mobility has remained stable over the centuries, and that creative clusters are persistent but less than population.