Degree Name

BS

Department

Economics

College

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Defense Date

2019-03-08

Publication Date

2019-03-15

First Faculty Advisor

Dr. Riley E. Wilson

First Faculty Reader

Dr. Joseph C. McMurray

Honors Coordinator

Dr. ​John E. Stovall​​

Keywords

economics, R&D, patents, patent citations, NASA, public sector R&D

Abstract

This paper examines the question of what impact federal R&D spending has on patent registration and future technological innovation. Because the causal relationship between federal R&D and patent grants is difficult to determine given aggregate trends and endogeneity, I use the sharp changes in NASA R&D funding between 1959 and 1975 as an interrupted time series. These unique circumstances, caused by the Space Race, make this time period a valuable event study in which to consider the impact of federal R&D. 1,996 unique patents granted to NASA and NASA-affiliates are considered, as well as an additional 19,845 unique patents which cite one or more of the original NASA patents. Regressing data from this interrupted time series, I find a significant and positive impact of NASA R&D appropriations on patent grants from 1959 to 1975, as well as on future innovation in both the public and private sector.

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