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The Geography of Breakthrough Inventions

Authors: Christopher Esposito*, UCLA
Topics: Economic Geography, Quantitative Methods, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: economic geography, innovation, knowledge
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Over the last 150 years, economic prosperity in the United States has migrated in two directions: westward, across the country, and inward, into the urban cores of its largest metropolitan areas. In this presentation, I show how these movements of U.S. economic activity have been driven by the generation of breakthrough inventions. I begin by describing a new patent-based data set which identifies breakthrough inventions from 1850 to the present. I then map the locations of breakthrough inventions across U.S. industrial history. Finally, I show how breakthrough inventions instigate -- and in some cases inhibit -- subsequent patenting growth in their host regions.

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