children from high-income (top 1%) families are ten times as likely to become inventors as those from below-median income families. There are similarly large gaps by race and gender.
Differences in innate ability, as measured by test scores in early childhood, explain relatively little of these gaps.
Growing up in a neighborhood or family with a high innovation rate in a specific technology class leads to a higher probability of patenting in exactly the same technology class.
exposure effects are gender-specific: girls are more likely to become inventors in a particular technology class if they grow up in an area with more female inventors in that technology class
- Exposure to innovation or broad possibilities in general is the differentiating factor between low-income and high-income families. So, policies trying to bridge the income gaps, should focus on creating exposure to the kids. Role models and technology are important tools in this process.
- The closer the role models to the socio-economic characteristics of the child, the better.