Beiträge zur Jahrestagung des Vereins für Socialpolitik 2016: Demographischer Wandel - Session: Demographic Change: Productivity and Social Security C12-V3
What is the effect of population aging on the rate of innovation? In this paper, I examine a new channel and argue that demographic shifts affect the demand for innovative goods. In an overlapping-generations model, it is assumed that individuals must spend time on learning how to use new technology. This creates age-dependent demand structures because older individuals have limited time windows for investments to pay off. The result is that in an aging population a larger fraction of the population does not invest in acquiring new skills. The amount of R&D is reduced as demand for innovative goods falls. Using data from all OECD countries for the period 1978-2010, I find support for these theoretical predictions. Those countries that faced the largest demographic shifts experienced the sharpest growth reduction in patent applications.