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Patent Places: Size Matters

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In this paper I investigate the United States urban system of technical advance by analysis of metropolitan patent data. Residents of metropolitan areas obtain most of the patents awarded to Americans and the largest areas predominate, signifying that urbanization externalities facilitate invention. The advantages of large areas arise from lopsided concentrations of technologically intensive manufacturing and an uneven distribution of well-educated people. Location with respect to the traditional manufacturing belt also plays a role. Metropolitan residents in the manufacturing belt remain the most industrious inventors. The contribution of leading educational and research institutions to technical advance is manifest in small urban centers and outside the traditional manufacturing belt.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Arizona State University, Tempe

Publication date: November 1, 1999

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