Los Alamos National Laboratory
Phone| Search
T-5 HomeResearchPublications › bettencourt-2006-invention
› Contact › People › Research
› Projects › Highlights › Publications
› Jobs › Visitor Info

Cite Details

Luis M. A. Bettencourt, Jose Lobo and D. Strumsky, "Invention in the City: Increasing Returns to Scale in Metropolitan Patenting", In print in Research Policy, 2006


We investigate the relationship between patenting activity and the size of metropolitan areas in the United States over the last two decades (1980-2001). We find a clear superlinear effect, whereby patents are granted disproportionately in larger urban centers, thus showing increasing returns in inventing activity with respect to population size. We characterize this relation quantitatively as a power law with an exponent larger than unity. This phenomenon is commensurate with the presence of larger numbers of inventors in larger metropolitan areas, which we find follows a quantitatively similar superlinear relationship to population, while the productivity of individual inventors stays essentially constant across metropolitan areas. Finally we show that R&D establishments and employment in other creative professions also follow superlinear relations to metropolitan population size, albeit possibly with different exponents.

BibTeX Entry

author = {Luis M. A. Bettencourt and Jose Lobo and D. Strumsky},
title = {Invention in the City: Increasing Returns to Scale in Metropolitan Patenting},
year = {2006},
journal = {In print in Research Policy}