Fact of the Week: The Ratio of Patent Filings to Population Living in Large Cities has Been Rising in the United States, but Falling in 13 out of 14 Other OECD Countries

Caleb Foote March 30, 2020
March 30, 2020

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Source: Michael Fritsch and Michael Wyrwich, “Is innovation (increasingly) concentrated in large cities? An international comparison,” NBER Working Paper No. 26392, February 2020.

Commentary: It is widely presumed that agglomeration effects cause large cities to have large advantages in the innovative process. A new study tests this presumption by examining the proportion of patents filed in large metropolitan areas from 2000 to 2014 across 14 OECD countries. It finds that, in all but one country, the percentage of patents filed in large metropolitan areas is higher than the percentage of the population living in those areas. The United Kingdom is the exception, with a metropolitan patent-to-population ratio of 0.88, while the Czech Republic’s ratio is the highest at 2.30. However, this ratio has fallen in every country but the United States, where it rose from 1.29 in 2000 to 1.32 in 2014.