International Trends in Technological Progress: Evidence from Patent Citations, 1980–2011


  • We thank an editor, two anonymous referees, Nick Bloom, Keun Lee, Jee-Hyeong Park and Manuel Trajtenberg for their comments. This research was supported by the POSCO TJ Park Foundation's Research Grants for Asian Studies, by the Asia Research Foundation Grant funded by the Seoul National University Asia Center (SNUAC-2013-007), by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2014S1A3A2043505) and by the European Research Council (ERC-2009-StG-240910-ROMETA). Jihong Lee acknowledges the Overseas Training Expenses for Humanities and Social Sciences by Seoul National University in 2014.


We analyse cross-country trends in several aspects of technological progress during 1980–2011 by examining the US patent citations data. Our estimation results on patent quality and citation lags relative to the US reveal the following. The emerging Asian economies of Korea, Taiwan and China have achieved substantial catch-up. In the case of Korea and Taiwan, progress has been made in both patent quality and citation lags. China has achieved improvement in patent quality but not in citation lag. In contrast, advanced economies of Europe and Japan have displayed steady decline in patent quality, while the US has strengthened its position.