Friday, July 17, 2020

Cook on Violence and Economic Activity

This is not directly related to patent remedies, but I thought it might be of interest to readers.  Professor Lisa Cook's article Violence and Economic Activity:  Evidence from African American Patents, 1870-1940, has received some well-deserved attention recently (see, e.g., here and here).  For readers who would like to read her paper, here is the link to the article as published in the Journal of Economic Growth (for which you will need a subscription), and here is a link from Professor Cook's website (for which you don't).  Here is the abstract:
Recent studies have examined the effect of political conflict and domestic terrorism on economic and political outcomes. This paper uses the rise in mass violence between 1870 and 1940 as an historical experiment for determining the impact of ethnic and political violence on economic activity, namely patenting. I find that violent acts account for more than 1100 missing patents compared to 726 actual patents among African American inventors over this period. Valuable patents decline in response to major riots and segregation laws. Absence of the rule of law covaries with declines in patent productivity for white and black inventors, but this decline is significant only for African American inventors. Patenting responds positively to declines in violence. These findings imply that ethnic and political conflict may affect the level, direction, and quality of invention and economic growth over time.

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