The Relationship Between STEM Educational Attainment and Utility Patent Conferrals: A State-Level Analysis
Thomas, Adam T
The utility patent, as a legal record of invention, is widely believed to be a close proxy for innovation among firms, industries, and economies as a whole. One of the critical drivers of patenting – and ultimately, innovation – is education. The science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields in education are of special importance. There is, however, little empirical research to substantiate a connection between STEM education and innovation outcomes. Seeking to fill this gap, this paper finds that, in general, there is no evidence of a meaningful relationship between STEM educational attainment and utility patent conferrals. The relationship of interest, though generally not statistically significant, is stronger for temporary US visa holders than for US citizens or permanent US residents. However, I find a large and statistically significant association between STEM educational attainment and utility patent conferrals for states that have above-average college educational attainment or above-average advanced industries workforce concentration.
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