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Is Distance Dying at Last?

Economists have long been sceptical of claims about the 'death of distance' - the idea that new technology has diminished the significance of geography for economic outcomes. Research by Sokbae Lee, Rachel Griffith and John Van Reenen, which looks at patent citations over a quarter of a century, finds the first hard evidence that distance is indeed becoming less important.

Their study finds that measured by the relative speed of patent citations over time, the flow of ideas between countries is getting quicker. If new ideas are benefiting other countries more quickly, it may make less sense to subsidise corporate R&D.

Rachel Griffith, Sokbae Lee and John Van Reenen

February 2008     Paper Number CEPCP240

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