DP13958 Patterns of innovation during the industrial revolution: a reappraisal using a composite indicator of patent quality

Author(s): Alessandro Nuvolari, Valentina Tartari, Matteo Tranchero
Publication Date: August 2019
Date Revised: September 2019
Keyword(s): industrial revolution, macroinventions, microinventions, patents
JEL(s): N74, O31
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=13958

We introduce a new bibliographic quality indicator for English patents granted in the period 1700-1850. The indicator is based on the visibility of each patent both in the contemporary legal and engineering literature and in modern authoritative works on the history of science and technology. The indicator permits to operationalize empirically the distinction between micro and macroinventions. Our fi ndings indicate that macroinventions did not exhibit any speci c time clustering, while at the same time they were characterized by a labor-saving bias. These results suggest that Mokyr's and Allen's views of macroinventions, rather than conflicting, should be regarded as complementary.