International trends in technological progress: stylized facts from patent citations, 1980-2011

International trends in technological progress: stylized facts from patent citations, 1980-2011
Document type
Working Paper
Author(s)
Kwon, Soonwoo; Lee, Jihong; Lee, Sokbae
Publisher
Institute for Fiscal Studies
Date of publication
26 March 2014
Series
cemmap working papers CWP16/14
Subject(s)
Trends: economic, social and technology trends affecting business
Collection
Business and management
Material type
Reports

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This working paper analyses cross-country trends in technological progress over the period of 1980-2011 by examining citations data from almost 4 million utility patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The estimation results on patent quality and distance to the knowledge frontier reveal the following stylised facts:

  • The emerging Asian economies of Korea, Taiwan, and China have indeed achieved substantial catch-up towards the technology frontier.
  • In the case of Korea and Taiwan, progress has been made in terms of patent quality as well as distance to the frontier.
  • Chinese patents are of higher quality now than before but Chinese inventors have yet to reduce the citation lag relative to the frontier.
  • In contrast, advanced economies of Europe and Japan have displayed steady decline in their patent quality.
  • Finally, the US has maintained, and in some cases strengthened, its position as the world technology frontier.

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