Brandeis University

To create the first comprehensive database, with ages and genders, of approximately two million inventors who received a U.S. patent between 1976 and 2012 and to measure how inventive creativity varies over the life course of inventors

  • Amount $413,385
  • City Waltham, MA
  • Investigator Margie Lachman
  • Year 2017
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Working Longer

Research shows a shifting balance of gains and losses in cognitive abilities throughout adulthood, with increases in experience-based knowledge and decreases in the ability to process new information quickly and efficiently. However, as is the case with much psychological research, little is known about how these ability changes manifest in daily life, including in the workplace. This grant supports a project by psychologist Margie Lachman and economist Adam Jaffe to study creative output over the life course by augmenting and analyzing a large dataset of more than two million patent holders. Lachman and Jaffe will use the dataset to examine such questions as the extent to which individuals are able to maintain or increase the quality and quantity of their innovative work, whether this varies by sector or gender, and whether teams that bring older and younger workers together are less or more creative than teams that are less age-diverse. This research will result in new knowledge and important insights for economists, psychologists, and other social scientists who are interested in how aging-related cognitive changes can affect innovation across life trajectories and across different types of teams. The creation of the new database will also facilitate further research.

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