Patents in the Long Run: Theory, History, and Statistics


Authors: Diebolt, Claude; Pellier, Karine
Almanac: History & Mathematics:Investigating Past and Future

This paper examines the structural and spatial dynamics of patents in France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The time series are extracted from international, comparative and historical databases on the long-term evolution of patents in 40 countries from the 17th century to 1945 and in more than 150 countries from 1945 to present (Diebolt and Pellier 2010). We have found strong evidence of infrequent large shocks resulting essentially from the major economic and political events formed by the two World Wars in the 20th century. Our results question the autonomous process, i.e. the internal dynamic of the patent systems. Wars seem to drive innovation and, finally, the very process of economic growth. We further investigated the role of innovation in economic growth through a causality analysis between patents and GDP per capita. Our major findings support the assumption that the accumulation of innovations was a driving force only for France, the United Kingdom and the United States during the post-World War II period.

Keywords: database, cliometrics, shock analysis, patents, causality, outliers, comparisons in time and space.