Inventors and the Geographical Breadth of Knowledge Spillovers
This paper studies the geographical breadth of knowledge spillovers. Previous research suggests that knowledge spillovers benefit from geographical proximity in technologically active and rich regions more than elsewhere. An alternative view explains the geographical breadth of knowledge spillovers as a function of the characteristics and personal networks of the individuals. We test these two competing theories by using information provided directly by the inventors of 6,750 European patents (PatVal-EU survey). Our results confirm the importance of inventors' personal background. However, compared to previous research, we find that the level of education of the inventors is key in shaping the geographical breadth of knowledge spillovers. Highly educated inventors rely more on geographically wide research networks than their less educated peers. This holds after controlling for the mobility of the inventors and for the scientific nature of the research performed. Differently, location matters only in the very rare regions in Europe that perform the bulk of the research in the specific discipline of the inventors.
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