Like land before the industrial revolution, in the present global economy much knowledge is being enclosed in private hands. In this paper we argue that these enclosures have become a major factor in specialization among firms and among countries: both are forced to specialize in the fields that are not restricted by the enclosures of the others. We use data on 26 OECD countries over the 1978-2006 period. We estimate the effect of patents endowments of countries on their investment specialization across sectors and show that knowledge enclosures involve self-reinforcing innovation patterns. Moreover, we perform a structural change analysis and find that the TRIPs agreement has significantly strengthened the relationship between countries' patents specialization and investment specialization. We conclude by suggesting that stronger international patent protection may restrict global investment opportunities, and this may be one of the factors contributing to the present crisis.
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In an International Conference held in Urbino (Italy) in 1989 a large number of European economists doing research in the field of comparative studies decided to build a new European association in order to further research and scientific exchanges on the subject.
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