Isolating Personal Knowledge Spillovers: Co-inventor Deaths and Spatial Citation Differentials
- American Economic Review: Insights (Forthcoming)
We propose a new method to estimate and isolate the localization of knowledge spillovers due
to the physical presence of a person, using after application but pre-grant deaths of differently
located co-inventors of the same patent. The approach estimates the differences in local citations
between the deceased and still-living inventors at increasingly distant radii. Patents receive 26%
fewer citations from within a radius of 20 miles around the deceased, relative to still-living coinventors.
Differences attenuate with time and distance, are stronger when still-living coinventors
live further from the deceased, and hold for a subsample of possibly premature deaths.
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