Past Seminars




May 27, 2021
Robots in the U.K.
Paul Hu London School of Economics

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Abstract

The use of robots in the production process is a growing phenomenon across much of the world and is being actively promoted by the government and industry leaders to strengthen the U.K.’s industrial capabilities despite its job-displacing potential. To evaluate whether such efforts lead to adverse effects for workers, this paper studies industrial robotics adoption and its impact on local labor market outcomes in the U.K. between 2009 to 2019. Exploiting differences in regional industry exposure to robotics, we find no impacts on averages wages and total employment from increased robot density in the economy. Greater robot adoption actually leads to somewhat higher employment in industries where robots are most widely used and in occupations whose tasks are complementary to those of robots. Despite possible concerns from the public that their jobs may be replaced by robots leading to mass unemployment, the very recent experiences presented here suggest this is unlikely to occur in the U.K.



May 6, 2021
Firm Decline, the Patent Gap, and Inventor Performance
Melissa Haller University of California, Los Angeles

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Abstract

Large-scale job displacement poses challenges for both individual workers and regional economies. As the Covid-19 Pandemic continues, these issues have become even more relevant globally, as job loss and economic disruption have impacted workers across many industries and occupations. Economic development is increasingly driven by new technologies and innovations, and there is a need for more research that enables us to better understand how job loss impacts inventors, as well as its broader impacts on processes of regional innovation. Using USPTO patent data on US inventors from 1976 to 2015, I study the transitions of inventors who have been displaced from declining firms. I first use survival analysis to model the individual and regional-level characteristics associated with finding new patenting positions after displacement, with a focus on the characteristics that enable inventors to patent again more quickly. The most talented and productive inventors tend to patent again the fastest, and I find that there is considerable regional variation in the post-displacement experiences of inventors. Secondly, I investigate the impacts of displacement on inventors’ future performance. I find that a gap of a year or more between displacement and patenting again negatively impacts inventors’ future productivity and technological output, and these impacts may be particularly concentrated in smaller US metro areas. Although this project draws on data and events that occurred prior to 2020, this research provides important lessons for the future of innovation and industrial development.



Mar 25, 2021
Science Collaboration, Research Funding, and Novelty in Publications
Hyunha Shin. Presenting Author. University College Dublin

Keungoui Kim University College Dublin

Dieter Kogler University College Dublin

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Abstract

New ideas and contributions sometimes bring about disruptive advancements in science and technology. Focusing on the value of novelty in scientific publications, the present contribution utilizes Web of Science data for European based authors for works published between 2008 to 2017. The study first examines the relationship between scientific collaborations and associated novelty in research activities. In terms of collaborations five socio-spatial levels are considered (country, NUTS1, NUTS2, NUTS3, and institutions), while novelty is measured with keyword information derived from each publication. Second, we investigate the moderating effect of research funding on the relationship between collaborations and novelty. The OLS regression results show that there is a negative and significant relationship between co-authorship and novelty, and it is observed in all levels of collaborations. Furthermore, funding has a significant moderating effect on the relationship between the two measures. In brief, collaborative works indicate lower novelty than solitary works, however, funded papers are likely to have higher novelty than unfunded works among co-authored research outputs. This article contributes by adding to a line of bibliometric research on scientific publications not only by examining different levels of collaborations, but also by linking publication’s novelty back to funding sources.



Mar 25, 2021
New Cooperation and Novel Innovations: The Role of Regional Brokerage and Collaboration Intensity
Keungoui Kim University College Dublin

Dieter Kogler University College Dublin

Massimiliano Coda Zabetta. Presenting Author University College Dublin

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Abstract

Along with the increased importance of technology innovation, the importance of collaboration has been highlighted for conducting the innovation. This study discusses the importance of brokerage role of regions in co-inventor collaboration for establishing novel innovation and new collaboration. In addition, we address how regional collaboration intensity interacts with the brokerage role, highlighting its mediating effect. For this purpose, empirical analysis has been conducted with EPO PATSTAT database and European Regional Database (ERD) covering the European regions between 1986 and 2015. Our finding shows that the brokerage roles contribute to the extension of collaboration network, but are not efficient for the creation of new invention. Collaboration intensity, however, helps both novel innovation and new collaboration, and specially it positively interacts with brokerage role indicating that a region can take the benefit from being broker in collaboration.



Dec 9, 2020
Low-Rise Buildings in Big Cities: Theory and evidence from China
Xiaolun Lu LSE

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Abstract

Land use regulations have been implemented around the world and have economic consequences beyond housing markets. Few studies have explored the determinants of these regulations in the context of developing economies. This paper sets out to understand the determinants of floor area ratio (FAR) limit — a major form of land use regulation that specifies construction density — in China. I first develop a spatial equilibrium framework that assumes that local governments set FAR limits such as to maximize endogenous local population size. Setting a higher limit enables them to provide more public goods and more housing but also increases negative externalities. I show that in equilibrium, local governments with high budgetary revenue opt to set lower FAR limits going forward to reduce negative externalities that are associated with higher density. I then employ a rich dataset of over one million land transactions in China and a county-level panel to perform empirical analysis. I exploit exogenous variation generated by a central government administrative adjustment policy and find that a one standard deviation increase in local government budgetary revenue decreases the FAR limit by 0.28. This result is robust to employing propensity score matching, an event-study analysis, and a spatial discontinuity design. I also find suggestive evidence indicating that the FAR design and the Chinese ‘Land Finance Model’ contribute to the country’s housing affordability crisis.



Dec 9, 2020
Migration, Housing Constraints, and Inequality: A Quantitative Analysis of China
Min Fang University of Rochester

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Abstract

We investigate the role of migration and housing constraints in determining income inequality within and across Chinese cities. Combining microdata and a spatial equilibrium model, we quantify the impact of the massive spatial reallocation of workers and the rapid growth of housing costs on the national income distribution. We first show several stylized facts detailing the strong positive correlation between migration inflows, housing costs, and imputed income inequality among Chinese cities. We then build a spatial equilibrium model featuring workers with heterogeneous skills, housing constraints, and heterogeneous returns from housing ownership to explain these facts. Our quantitative results indicate that the reductions in migration costs and the disproportionate growth in productivity across cities and skills result in the observed massive migration flows. Combining with the tight land supply policy in big cities, the expansion of the housing demand causes the rapid growth of housing costs and enlarges the inequality between local housing owners and migrants. The counterfactual analysis shows that if we redistribute land supply increment by migrant flow and increase land supply toward cities with more migrants, we could lower the within-city income inequality by 14% and the national income inequality by 18%. Meanwhile, we can simultaneously encourage more migration into higher productivity cities.



Nov 18, 2020
Innovation and Local Labour Markets: A Panel Analysis of France, Germany and the UK
Carolin Ioramashvili LSE

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Abstract

This paper considers the effect of innovation, measured by patent applications, on regional employment and earnings in the UK, France and Germany. I use a panel estimation strategy to model the feedback effects between patenting and graduate employment as well as their joint effect at the NUTS2 regional level. Isolating the variation of graduate employment induced by innovation shocks, I estimate the direct effect of innovation on earnings and non-graduate employment, as well as the indirect effect through an increase in graduate employment. The results confirm a positive feedback effect between patenting and graduate employment. However, the effects on non-graduate employment are highly variable by country.



Nov 11, 2020
The New Geography of Breakthrough Inventions
Christopher Esposito UCLA

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Abstract

In the United States, the geography of creative invention – defined as the production of patents that are both novel and impactful – underwent three broad changes over the course of the 20th century. In the early 1900s, creative invention was concentrated in large and knowledge-diverse metropolitan areas. Subsequently, creative invention spread out across the country, and by the middle of the century was no more concentrated in knowledge-diverse cities than was patenting as a whole. Creative invention re-concentrated in knowledge-diverse cities between 1960 and the end of the century, but for a different reason than before. The local circulation of diverse ideas is no longer the primary driver of its concentration. Instead, creative invention now primarily concentrates in knowledge-diverse cities because these locations provide superior advantages to collaborate with inventors who reside in other regions. Between 1900 and 1960, the average impact of novel patents invented by multi-locational teams in diverse cities was identical to the impact of similar patents invented by single-locational teams. However, by the 1990s, multi-locational teams’ novel patents were on average 48% more impactful. Creative invention is thus increasingly located not only within the cores of major metropolitan areas, but also along the edges of collaborative networks that span between them.



Oct 21, 2020
Hops, Skip and a Jump: The Regional Diffusion of Beer Ingredients
Ryan Hynes University College Dublin

Bernardo Buarque University College Dublin

Abstract

Perhaps more than any other product, beer evokes the place it was made. Weißbier and Germany, dubbels and tripels with Belgium, and most of all, Guinness and Ireland. Part of what makes these beers so memorable is what sets them apart. We associate these different ingredients and flavors to a specific beer, and thus, a region. But how unique are these ingredients and recipes really? To answer this question, we combine data on unique beer recipes with techniques from regional economic geography to create regional ingredient networks. We then observe how changes to these networks affect recipes and flavor combinations. Those recipes that are most sensitive to changes in unique regional ingredients are likely truly unique, while those that remain are more common across regions.



Oct 7, 2020
Where do Capabilities Reside?
Anthony Frigon UCLA. Presenting author

David Rigby UCLA

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Abstract

There has been a recent interest in economic geography in identifying the agents of change driving regional diversification across European countries. Underlying the general findings that non-local firms play a key role in shifting the industrial base of regions is the theoretical claim that non-local firms introduce capabilities that were (at least partly) developed elsewhere and transferred through intra-corporate channels. We empirically explore this claim by investigating the sources of technological capabilities developed by the establishments of multi-locational firms operating in the U.S. We trace the extension of knowledge capabilities within these establishments by looking at the history of changes in the patents they produce by technology class over the period 2001 to 2015. The analysis reports how technological diversification at the establishment level is influenced by each establishment’s prior knowledge assets, by the knowledge assets of the firm of which the establishment is a part, and by external knowledge capabilities found in the city where the establishment is located. Our results show that technological diversification in the business units of multi-locational firms is influenced by knowledge that originates from all three of the sources just noted. Overall, the variance in technological diversification within the plants examined is mostly explained by the existing knowledge base of the plants themselves, followed by the knowledge base of the firm and then the city. The sources of knowledge capabilities that shape diversification at the plant-level vary with the type of plant examined. Headquarters (HQ) borrow more heavily from firm-based capabilities as they diversify and they use significantly less plant-based and extra-firm local capabilities than the branches of the firm. Branches located in less inventive cities draw on firm and place-based capabilities less than those in more inventive cities.



Oct 7, 2020
Executive Mobility and Location Choices of Multinational Firms
Baptiste Souillard Université Libre de Bruxelles (ECARES)

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Abstract

What makes firms invest in foreign countries? In this paper, I show that beyond country- and firm-specific characteristics, experience of top executives is crucial to understand multinational enterprises’ location choices. Using a unique dataset tracking executives and subsidiaries of S&P 1500 firms, I find that hiring an executive having previously worked for a company that had at least one subsidiary in a given country increases the firm’s probability to enter this country by 8 percent. Moreover, I observe little effect at the intensive margin and a wage premium for experience in managing multinational activities. These results are robust to using movements precipitated by some events as sources of exogenous shocks (e.g., death of incumbent executives) and to exploiting the conferral of the Permanent Normal Trade Relations status on China as a quasi-natural experiment. Altogether, they suggest that top executives develop country-specific knowledge, a valuable asset in the labor market that helps firms reach new foreign countries. Because they notably hold for tax havens, they also shed light on the mechanisms whereby profit shifting activities spread across multinational corporations and imply that tracking top executives could help public authorities detect aggressive tax planning.



Sept 23, 2020
Institutional Relatedness and the Emergence of Renewable Energy Cooperatives in German Districts
Matthijs Punt Utrecht University. Presenting author

Koen Frenken Utrecht University

Abstract

This paper analyzes the evolution of renewable energy cooperatives in Germany looking at all such cooperatives founded in German districts between 2006 and 2016. We investigate the effects of ‘institutional relatedness’ arguing that renewable energy cooperatives can leverage both the knowledge and the legitimacy gained by cooperatives active in other sectors in the same district. Using an organizational ecology approach, we find that the local presence of cooperatives in other industries indeed supported the founding of renewable energy cooperatives.



Sept 9, 2020
Ethnicity and Collaboration in Inventor Networks
Christian Chacua University of Bordeaux. Presenting author

Francesco Lissoni University of Bordeaux and Università Bocconi

Ernest Miguelez University of Barcelona

Abstract

We analyze the effect of ethnic-cultural similarity on the formation of highly-skilled professional collaborations, in the context of contemporary international migration trends. Our main hypothesis is that ethnic networks are a source of complementarities among knowledge workers of foreign origin, which in turn increases their probability to collaborate. To this end, we evaluate the determinants of co-inventorship on a sample of inventors of foreign origin residing in the United States, listed in patent applications between 1975 and 2012. We find that inventors from the same foreign origin have, on average, a higher probability of inventing-together, after controlling for spatial and social proximities, as well as for network structural effects. Moreover, this effect is not homogeneous, as it is particularly strong for some Asian ethnicities and for the technological field of Computer technology and telecommunications. These findings suggest that informal factors, which usually drive social interactions, play a relevant role in explaining professional interactions. This stands in partial contrast with evidence according to which the increasing knowledge complexity and globalization of science leads to ethnic-cultural diversity in teams.



Aug 5, 2020
Atypical Combination of Technologies in Regional Co-Inventor Networks
Milad Abbasiharofteh Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), Halle, Germany

Abstract

Novel combinations of technologies are generated from existing knowledge and are transformed into economic progress in cities and regions by collaborative work. Inventors tend to be specialized and their ability to collaborate with peers with diverse expertise determines their capacity to produce novelty. Yet, little is known how the distribution of technological variety across co-inventor networks is related to the creation of ‘atypical’ inventions. In this paper, we identify atypical patents filed by the European Patent Office and explain dynamics of their creation in European NUTS2 regions. By analysing the community structure of co-inventor networks in each region, we find that the share of atypical patents is growing where co-inventor communities are increasingly bridged by collaborations. Evidence suggests that linking communities of dissimilar technological profile favours atypical knowledge production the most. Our findings are robust against other network variables put forward in previous works.



July 22, 2020
No Inventor is an Island: Social Connectedness and the Geography of Knowledge Flow in the U.S.
Andreas Diemer Department of Geography and the Environment, London School of Economics

Abstract

Do informal social ties connecting inventors across distant places promote knowledge flows between them? Our focus is on transfers of knowledge captured by patent citations. To measure informal ties, we use a direct and broad index of social connectedness of regions. We thus improve on previous studies that rely on indirect measures to infer this relationship. Moreover, we isolate the specific effect of informal connections, above and beyond formal ties (co-inventor networks) and plain geographic proximity. Our identification strategy relies on matching inventor citations with citations from examiners, whose own social geography is orthogonal to the inventor’s on the same patent. We identify a small but significant and robust effect of informal ties on patent citation. Two counties at the 75th percentile of social connectedness are on average 1.2 percentage points more likely to cite one another than a pair of counties at the 25th percentile. We also show that the relevance of informal social ties has increased in time. Further, effects appear to be stronger for entrepreneurs and garage inventors, for patents that are common domain in a geographical sense, and for distant technologies.



July 8, 2020
Technology Network Structure Conditions the Economic Resilience of Regions
Gergo Toth Spatial Dynamics Lab, University College Dublin

Zoltan Elekes ANET Lab, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Budapest

Abstract

Regional economies across Europe show persistent disparities in economic performance and face a number of structural challenges due to shifting economic structures, and income polarisation. Consequently, people across an increasing number of regions are experiencing their economic opportunities and welfare provision to be diminishing, which is directly linked to a growing political discontent. In response, increasing attention in academia and policy has been directed towards the notion of regional economic resilience, the capacity of regions to withstand economic shocks while also being able to develop new growth paths. Still, while regional economies can be regarded as webs of specialized production units, largely dependent on the technologies, skills and tacit knowledge integrated in the process of value creation, our knowledge on how the network structure of the local economy conditions its resilience is limited. The aim of this paper is to provide systematic evidence on why some regions are more vulnerable to structural pressures than others by analysing the resilience of European metropolitan regions for the 2008 economic crisis using patent data to construct regional technology spaces, and applying methods adopted from network science that are novel to regional science. Our findings from regression analysis show that overall, related and unrelated variety explain only the first layer of resilience, and that the local network structure makes a difference when comparing regions with similar distribution of technologies.



July 1, 2020
Labour Mobility and Regional Earnings in Great Britain
Carolin Ioramashvili Department of Geography and the Environment, London School of Economics

Abstract

This paper studies labour mobility in Great Britain in the context of large regional earnings differences, particularly between North and South, and core and periphery regions. Internal migration might balance labour supply and demand, resulting in a reduction of disparities, or increase the concentration of human capital in prospering areas, resulting in widening inequalities. Using a panel of employee records, I estimate the impact of local internal in- and out-migration on the earnings of employees who do not move. I find a negative effect on earnings of a positive labour supply shock due to internal migration. However, this effect is only negative in the first year and turns positive thereafter. There are no effects of a reduction in labour supply due to internal out-migration. Therefore, the aggregate earnings effects of internal migration are likely to be positive overall, without adverse effects for regions losing population.



June 24, 2020
My Kind of Town: The Effect of Regional Specialization on Inventor Location
Bernardo Buarque Spatial Dynamics Lab, University College Dublin

Ryan Hynes School of Economics, University College Dublin

Abstract

This paper investigates how the location and migration of skilled workers is influenced by regional technical specialization. We map European patent data from 1978-2013 at the NUTS2 level and construct a measure of both inventor and regional specialization. We then observe the migration of inventors across European NUTS2 regions throughout our panel. We find that inventors are more likely to locate in regions with existing specializations in technology sectors that complement the inventor’s own expertise. This is a significant result for understanding the agglomeration and knowledge spillover effects of skilled labor.



June 17, 2020
A New Dimension of Regional Knowledge Spaces: Entry Relatedness and Entry Potential
Keungoui Kim Spatial Dynamics Lab, University College Dublin

Dieter F. Kogler Spatial Dynamics Lab, University College Dublin

Abstract

This paper aims to uncover the mechanism of how regional knowledge space attributes contribute to regional growth from the perspective of entry-relatedness and entry-potential. We advance the measure of knowledge entry-relatedness by adopting a knowledge gravity model and propose a new indicator of entry-potential using CPC co-occurrence network centrality indices.

Based on an empirical analysis of UK Metro and non-Metro (NUTS-3) regions from 1980 to 2014, we find that entry-relatedness has a significant and negative association with growth in the regional innovation capacity, while on the other hand entry-potential has a significant positive association in that context. This highlights that a region’s capacity to focus on high-potential areas of technological specialization is an important feature if the goal is to improve local innovative capacities.



June 3, 2020
Economic Decline and Inventor Mobility
Melissa Haller UCLA Department of Geography

Abstract

In the US, former industrial regions have been hit particularly hard as the US economy has transitioned from manufacturing-based to more knowledge-intensive activities in recent decades, and job destruction has impacted workers of all skill levels and occupations. Understanding how inventors are impacted by economic decline is particularly important: evidence suggests that skilled workers are more mobile than any other group, especially in response to economic shocks. Whether displaced inventors are able to find re-employment in a local labor market may impact a city’s future regional development outcomes, particularly if the most skilled inventors move away in search of employment elsewhere.

I use USPTO patent data to trace innovative workers and their mobility in response to firm decline. Using four illustrative firm case studies, I investigate first, what inventors most successfully find re-employment after working for a declining firm and what types of skills and characteristics best enable them to obtain new jobs in patenting positions. Secondly, I examine the characteristics of inventors who move away and whether they vary significantly from inventors who do not move. Lastly, I consider the factors that influence how long it takes for inventors to patent again after leaving a declining firm.

I ultimately find that an inventor’s collaboration networks (both local and global), and the diversity of the technologies she produces are the most consistent determinants of both finding a new, patenting position in another firm and moving away to patent in another city. These factors also significantly reduce the time it takes for an inventor to begin patenting again. Despite clear inter-firm differences, these results are consistent across all four case studies. Ultimately, results suggest that regions may be losing well-connected inventors and technological diversity in the aftermath of firm closure, which may negatively impact their future economic possibilities.



May 27, 2020
The Disruptive Geography of Breakthrough Inventions
Christopher R. Esposito UCLA Department of Geography

Abstract

In 1850, the 10 most innovative cities in the United States based on patent counts were New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Albany, Hartford, Worcester, New Haven, Providence, and Washington DC. By 2000, only two of those cities still ranked in the nation’s top 10. In this paper, I argue that new cities surpass incumbent cities as leading centers of innovation and economic prosperity by sourcing, conceiving, and actualizing breakthrough technological inventions. In so doing, the findings suggest that the causational direction normally assumed between agglomeration size and innovation needs to be reversed: big, innovative agglomerations are more an outcome than a cause of breakthrough inventions.

I substantiate these claims by exploiting a novel patent-based dataset that links each patent granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office between 1850 and 2010 to its knowledge-based origins. By tracing the flow of technical knowledge between patents and over time, these data allow me to identify high-impact patents all the way back to 1850. During the first part of the presentation, I describe the methods used to construct this novel dataset and demonstrate its accuracy through a series of validation checks.

The second part of the presentation returns to the question of the rise and decline of knowledge production in cities. In this respect, the new data show that the overall growth in a city’s knowledge production is instigated by intensive production of breakthrough inventions and by sourcing breakthrough-embedded knowledge created in other regions. Over time, a small number of cities capture the technological opportunities opened up by those breakthrough inventions. The cities that capture these opportunities expand their knowledge production as they introduce incremental inventions that deal with esoteric technological issues. Eventually, decades after the production of breakthroughs in these regions declines, their overall knowledge production faces a similar demise.



May 18, 2020
The Specialization and Diversification Nexus in the Greenization of the Knowledge Space
Jie Liu East China University of Science and University College Dublin

Dieter F. Kogler University College Dublin

Abstract

How do countries utilize their present knowledge stock, i.e. national technological capabilities, in order to branch out and develop novel “green” innovations? In an attempt to address this contemporary highly relevant question, the present investigation employs a new methodological approach that measures the greenization of national knowledge spaces. Utilizing a global patent database developed for this purpose, the analysis covers 71 nation-states and the development of their technological competences over the 1980-2015 timeframe. Specific knowledge domains as indicated by CPC codes listed on patent documents provide the opportunity to separate green vs. non-green technologies.

The preliminary results of the study reveal some interesting insights, in particular in regard to the specialization and diversification nexus that shapes technological change towards green knowledge. In the long term, countries tend to develop a comparative advantage in the green knowledge space that relies heavily on prior competencies; something we might have anticipated. However, the analysis also shows that that developed countries depend much more on their traditional knowledge-base compared to their less-developed counterparts that appear to enter the green part of the knowledge space via branching out into novel and previously underrepresented local technology capabilities. These results further beg the question, to what extent specialization and diversification are drivers of technological change across jurisdictions of different developmental status?