Over the past few decades there have been troubling indications that dynamism and competition in the U.S. economy have declined. Markets are more concentrated than they were a few decades ago, and entrepreneurship is less common, with both the number and employment share of new firms well below the levels of previous decades. Carefully assessing these trends as they relate to public policy is necessary to achieving a more competitive, productive economy that generates broadly shared growth.
Users contribute information to many digital platforms. Regulators have recognized that when such data cannot be easily moved between platforms, this may lock those users in to incumbents and prevent innovative competitors from emerging. Gans argues that the same type of barriers exists with respect to networks of users. Users who move between platforms could lose the benefits of communications within their social network. He proposes to generalize data portability to a broader notion of identity portability whereby messages between verified connections can flow between platforms, thereby mitigating these broader switching costs and promoting competition.
There is general agreement that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issues too many invalid patents—those patents issued on an existing technology or on an obvious technological advancement—that are unnecessarily reducing consumer welfare, stunting productive research, and discouraging innovation. To address this, Frakes and Wasserman build upon new empirical evidence to propose three changes to the patent system that would reduce the issuance of invalid patents.
Despite progress toward a cleaner energy system, current U.S. policies appear insufficient to reduce emissions enough to avoid catastrophic climate change while sustaining economic growth. Energy innovation is a crucial part of addressing this problem, but a number of inefficiencies persist in the innovation system. To address this, Goldstein, Azoulay, Graff Zivin, and Bulović examine practices and institutions that successfully support the pharmaceutical innovation system and that hold important lessons for energy innovation.
In this set of eleven economic facts, The Hamilton Project explores central features of the innovation system, including patents, research and development (R&D) investments, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Invalid patents and other challenges in the innovation pipeline can be overcome only if the determinants of innovation are well understood. Addressing these challenges advances The Hamilton Project’s core goal of promoting broadly shared economic growth.
In this framing paper, The Hamilton Project describes the broader economic context of contingent employer–employee relationships and where the emerging on-demand gig economy fits in this context. It also highlights the regulatory and measurement gaps that need to be resolved.