Title: "Induced Innovation, Inventors, and the Energy Transition*" co-authored with Todd Gerarden
Abstract: Reducing carbon emissions requires developing clean energy technologies, and thus, innovation is critical to dealing with climate change. Economic models of directed technical change highlight the central role that scientists play in innovation. Yet there is little empirical evidence on how energy scientists respond to economic incentives. In this paper, we investigate whether and which inventors can be induced to work on clean electricity technologies. We use patent data to describe inventors’ specializations across fields and over time, and we leverage quasi-random variation in natural gas prices to examine the heterogeneity in inventors’ elasticity. We find that inventors patenting both on clean and dirty technologies are rare and only a small sub-sample of dirty inventors move into clean in response to variations in prices. Overall, our results can help better target complementary green innovation policies such as training or R&D grant programs.