Becker Friedman Institute
for Research in Economics
The University of Chicago

Research. Insights. Impact. Advancing the Legacy of Chicago Economics.

Endogenous Productivity of Demand-Induced R&D: Evidence from Pharmaceuticals

September 2017
Mark Pauly, Kyle Meyers

This paper examines trends in the productivity of the pharmaceutical sector over the past three decades. Motivated by Ricardo's insight regarding demand-driven productivity in settings of scarce resources, we examine the industry's aggregate R&D production function. Using exogenous demand shocks to instrument investments, we find that demand growth explains roughly half of R&D growth and amongst this demand-induced R&D, the industry's returns to scale have been very stable while total factor productivity has declined significantly. Suggestive evidence based on these estimates is in line with Ricardo's prediction that productivity and rents are endogenous to demand.