The Economics of Crisis Innovation Policy: A Historical Perspective

Conference Paper

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers, researchers, and journalists have made comparisons to World War II. In 1940, a group of top US science administrators organized a major coordinated research effort to support the Allied war effort, including significant investments in medical research that yielded innovations like mass-produced penicillin, antimalarials, and a flu vaccine. We draw on this episode to discuss the economics of crisis innovation. Since the objectives of crisis R&D are different than ordinary R&D, we argue that appropriate R&D policy in a crisis requires going beyond the standard Nelson-Arrow framework for research policy.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gross, DP; Sampat, BN

Published Date

  • May 1, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 111 /

Start / End Page

  • 346 - 350

Published By

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2574-0776

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2574-0768

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1257/pandp.20211106