Essays on the production of patents, engineers and occupational mobility
AdvisorOaxaca, Ronald L.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation consists of three essays which combine studies of Industrial Organization and Labor Economics to investigate how institutions, like the intellectual property regime and funded R&D affect the production of patents and engineering degrees. Also occupational mobility in engineers is investigated as a source of additional supply of engineers. In the last two decades there have been significant changes in the interpretation of patent-law in the U.S. Most important for this study, software became a 'patentable subject matter' by 1995. Since 1995 the number of software patents has increased annually at an approximate rate of 15%. In the first essay I examine the impact of this treatment of property rights in patents, with the help of a self-compiled data set that matches firms' patent-portfolios with their financial variables, for the period 1986--2001. The last two essays examine the labor markets and the development of human capital in the engineering profession. I first model the annual production of engineers at the three degree levels (B.S., M.S., and Ph.D.) and four engineering sub-fields over the time period of 1970--1998. Unlike previous models, I disaggregate R&D by the two main performing groups: industry and university. Industry performed R&D is treated as a demand-side variable, while university performed R&D is treated as a supply side variable, through its impact on funding for higher education in engineering. Distributed lags of R&D spending are used as indicators of the extent of long-run opportunities in engineering. Starting salaries are interpreted as indicators of spot labor market conditions for newly minted degrees. A system of equations, models the number of engineering degrees at one degree-level as a potential applicant pool for the next higher degree-level. The availability of foreign students in the applicant pool is also accounted for. One of the major worries in engineering training is the extent to which the number of engineers in subfields in engineering will be mismatched with the demand for engineers in these subfields. Parts of the second and the entire third essay further examine mobility of engineers across engineering sub-fields. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
Degree ProgramGraduate College