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SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper
Ethnic Inventors, Diversity and Innovation in the UK: Evidence from Patents Microdata
Max Nathan
October 2011
Paper No' SERCDP0092:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J15; J24; J61; M13; O3; R11; R23

Tags: ethnic inventors; innovation; patents; cultural diversity; diasporas; cities

Ethnic inventors play important roles in US innovation systems, especially in high-tech regions like Silicon Valley. Do ‘ethnicity-innovation’ channels exist elsewhere? This paper investigates, using a new panel of UK patents microdata. In theory, ethnicity might affect positively innovation via ‘star’ migrants, network externalities from co-ethnic groups, or production complementarities from diverse inventor communities. I use the novel ONOMAP name classification system to identify ethnic inventors. Controlling for individuals’ human capital, I find small positive effects of South Asian and Southern European co-ethnic group membership on individual patenting. The overall diversity of inventor communities also helps raise individual inventors’ productivity. I find no hard evidence that ethnic inventors crowd out patenting by majority groups.

This paper has been published as:
Same difference? Minority ethnic inventors, diversity and innovation in the UK, Max Nathan, Journal of Economic Geography Volume 15, Issue 1, January 2015