U.S. invention has become increasingly concentrated around major tech centers since
the 1970s, with implications for how much cities across the country share in concomitant local
benefits. Is invention becoming a winner-takes-all race? We explore the rising spatial
concentration of patents and identify an underlying stability in their distribution. Software
patents have exploded to account for about half of patents today, and these patents are highly
concentrated in tech centers. Tech centers also account for a growing share of non-software
patents, but the reallocation, by contrast, is entirely from the five largest population centers in

  1. Non-software patenting is stable for most cities, with anchor tenants like universities
    playing important roles, suggesting the growing concentration of invention may be nearing its
    end. Immigrant inventors and new businesses aided in the spatial transformation.
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