How Many Jobs Does Intellectual Property Create?

Reports that attempt to draw a strong link between US intellectual property and job creation usually fail to address many aspects of this complex issue. These campaigns commonly treat jobs as ends in themselves – they rarely stop to ask whether the jobs that would be created by stronger IP protections would actually benefit society. Proponents of the IP-created-jobs argument also tend to underestimate the extent to which resources not spent on IP-protected products are spent elsewhere. Other issues aside, this means that stronger IP protection is more likely to change the distribution of employment than the overall number of jobs. Lastly, the value and purpose of IP vary significantly across positions, firms, and industries. Labeling every job that involves IP as “IP-created” overstates the value of IP relative to other factors and motivations.

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