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[Vol.24 No.3] Fourth Industrial Revolution and Innovative Capacity: Comparative Analysis of Major Industrial Nations with US Patent Data, 1976-2015

Group :
Economic Research Institute (02-759-5407) 2018.09.30 1120

Author : Lee, Jihong·Lim, Hyunkyeong·Jeong, Daeyoung


  This paper purports to scrutinize the evolving trends of major technologies that have shaped the world’s technology frontier, and at the same time, measure relative standings of major industrial nations in their innovative capacity in production of those technologies. We consider all (over 5 million) utility patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) over the period of 1976-2015. In analysis, we find the continued dominance of US, the steady performance of Japan, the signs of European decline, and the emergence of new economies that include Korea, Taiwan and Israel. By considering the most popular technologies per each decade, we observe a clear pattern in the evolution of world economic structure, most notably, the IT revolution. Interestingly, it is precisely in these IT-related technologies in which Korea have performed especially well. In the fastest growing technologies of the most recent decade, however, Korea’s performance thus far bucks this rosy trend. Korea’s innovative capacity is not as evenly distributed across all technologies as other advanced nations. US, Japan, Europe, and other Western economies, as well as Israel, all exhibit solid and steady performance in all our rankings.