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Patterns of innovation during the Industrial Revolution: A reappraisal using a composite indicator of patent quality

Alessandro Nuvolari (), Valentina Tartari and Matteo Tranchero

Explorations in Economic History, 2021, vol. 82, issue C

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. The indicator provides the opportunity for a large-scale empirical appraisal of macro- and microinventions. Our findings indicate that macroinventions did not exhibit any specific time-clustering, while microinventions were characterized by clustering behavior. In addition, we also find that macroinventions displayed a labor-saving bias and were mostly introduced by professional engineers. These results suggest that Allen’s and Mokyr’s views of macroinventions, rather than conflicting, should be regarded as complementary.

Keywords: Industrial revolution; Patents; Macroinventions; Microinventions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N73 O31 O33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Working Paper: Patterns of Innovation during the Industrial Revolution: a Reappraisal using a Composite Indicator of Patent Quality (2020) Downloads
Working Paper: Patterns of innovation during the industrial revolution: a reappraisal using a composite indicator of patent quality (2019) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:exehis:v:82:y:2021:i:c:s0014498321000413

DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2021.101419

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