Are ideas harder to get? Nicholas Bloom, Charles Jones, John Van Reenen and Michael Webb (AER, 2020) documented the contrast between the continuously uprising research input and the stable total factor productivity (TFP) growth globally.
In the case of Singapore, the contrast is even more striking. Since 2000, R&D personnel per million population in Singapore has been increasing continuously, whereas Singapore’s TFP level stays roughly stagnant, if not declining.
The increasing trend in the number of patent families filed by Singapore-based inventors or applicants worldwide, coupled with the growing R&D personnel and stagnant TFP levels, raises two puzzling questions. First, “why is there a decline in research productivity”. Second, “why don’t research output like patents transform into TFP growth”.
- R&D personnel per million population in Singapore has been increasing continuously since 2000.
- Singapore’s TFP level stay roughly stable, if not declining.
- The number of patent families filed by Singapore-based inventors or applicants worldwide also increases during the period, although less than the increase in R&D personnel.
- R&D personnel per mil. Population: World Bank
- Number of Patent families: ACI’s calculation based on EPO PATSTAT Database
- TFP, population: Penn World Table 10.0
Article By Chi ZHANG
Graphic By Yixuan GE