Measuring China’s Technological Changes in the 20th Century, One Book at a Time

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    Existing measures of long-term technological changes using R&D expenditure, total factor productivity, patented inventions, or exhibition data from international technology fairs are plagued by problems such as measurement error, selection bias, and limited coverage of data. Data availability is particularly a problem for countries that only industrialized more recently, such as China. For example, the effective patent system was only established in China in 1985. In this research project, I propose measuring China’s technological changes over the last century at the aggregated and sectoral levels using the numbers of books, and research articles published in the field of science and technology between 1911 and 2000. This approach allows me to construct a reliable, direct measure of the technological changes that took place each year over a long period of time.

    I can also link this sectoral-level proxy of technological changes with industry- or product-level data on economic activity—including firms’ investment, employment, and trade—to study the impact of technology shocks on economic activity. Furthermore, using measures of technological advancement based on different sources of knowledge (international knowledge diffusion or independent invention), I can further compare the effects of technology shocks from different sources. Finally, I plan to collect data on patients after 1985 (since the issue of China's Patent Law) and compare them it against my book-based measure to verify the validity of the later.
    Effective start/end date1/01/23 → …


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