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In this dissertation, I use historical patent data and natural experiments to show how policies and institutions affect invention. Chapter 1 shows that establishing new colleges causes 33% more patents per year in places that get a college, but few of these additional patents come from the college's graduates. Chapter 2 uses alcohol prohibition to show that informal social interactions are important for invention: shuttering saloons decreased patenting by 15%. The effect is strongestdoi:10.13016/m2o2kn-sxjb fatcat:75qx6zekf5hwbmo32wjzwzhj74