Opportunity Denied

The inequality of innovation

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  04 Jan 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6422, pp. 40-41
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6422.40-g

A lack of social capital can undermine a child's likelihood of becoming an inventor, regardless of her inventive ability. Using U.S. patent records for 1.2 million inventors, combined with tax records and other data, Bell et al. show how children from high-income families are several times more likely to become inventors than those from lower-income families, even when they have comparable math abilities. Children who grow up in areas where innovation and patenting are more common are more likely to patent as well, and particularly in the same class of technologies that had a high innovation rate in their childhood communities.

Quart. J. Econ. 10.1093/qje/qjy028 (2018).

Navigate This Article