Do tax incentives for research increase firm innovation? An RD design for R&D
We present evidence of a causal impact of research and development (R&D) tax incentives on innovation. We exploit a change in the asset-based size thresholds for eligibility for R&D tax subsidies and implement a Regression Discontinuity Design using administrative tax data on the population of UK firms. There are statistically and economically significant effects of the tax change on both R&D and patenting (even when quality-adjusted). R&D tax price elasticities are large at about 2.6, probably because the treated group is from a sub-population of smaller firms and subject to financial constraints. There does not appear to be pre-policy manipulation of assets around the thresholds that could undermine our design. Over the 2006-11 period aggregate business R&D would be around 10% lower in the absence of the tax relief scheme. We also show that the R&D generated by the tax policy creates positive spillovers on the innovations of technologically related firms.
11 March 2016 Paper Number CEPDP1413
This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Growth programme.