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Lockdowns and Innovation: Evidence from the 1918 Flu Pandemic

Enrico Berkes (), Olivier Deschenes, Ruben Gaetani, Jeffrey Lin and Christopher Severen

No 28152, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Does social distancing harm innovation? We estimate the effect of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs)—policies that restrict interactions in an attempt to slow the spread of disease—on local invention. We construct a panel of issued patents and NPIs adopted by 50 large US cities during the 1918 flu pandemic. Difference-in-differences estimates show that cities adopting longer NPIs did not experience a decline in patenting during the pandemic relative to short-NPI cities, and recorded higher patenting afterward. Rather than reduce local invention by restricting localized knowledge spillovers, NPIs adopted during the pandemic may have better preserved other inventive factors.

JEL-codes: N92 O31 R11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-geo, nep-his, nep-ino, nep-tid and nep-ure
Note: DAE PE PR
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Working Paper: Lockdowns and Innovation: Evidence from the 1918 Flu Pandemic (2020)
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