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Commuting and innovation: Are closer inventors more productive?

Hongyu Xiao, Andy Wu and Jaeho Kim

Journal of Urban Economics, 2021, vol. 121, issue C

Abstract: We estimate the causal effect of workplace–home commuting distance on inventor productivity. We construct a novel panel of U.S. inventors with precisely measured workplace–home distances and inventor-level productivity. Our identification strategy exploits firm office relocations as exogenous variation in the commuting distance of inventors at the firms. We find a significant negative effect from commuting distance on inventor productivity: every 10 km increase in distance is associated with a 5% decrease in patents per inventor–firm pair per year and an even greater 7% decrease in patent quality. The highest-performing inventors suffer more from increased commuting distance. We discuss the implications of our findings in the light of recent trends around telecommuting and remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: Commuting distance; Proximity; Inventor productivity; Innovation; Firm relocation; Telecommuting (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J24 O30 R30 R41 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (11)

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DOI: 10.1016/j.jue.2020.103300

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