The correlation between social welfare and innovation

I was refreshing a bit in the R programming language today, and to do so I did some exploratory data analysis on countries’ innovative capacities and measures of human welfare.

Not surprisingly, innovativeness correlates with GDP per capita and with measures of social progress. Combining those measures predicts innovativeness better than either measure on its own.

This sort of exploratory analysis is too simple to mean much, but intuitively it makes sense to expect a causal relationship in both directions. We’d expect innovative countries to be wealthier, and even better off by other measures, since innovation drives all sorts of progress, not all of which is captured in GDP. Likewise, we’d expect countries that rank highly in measures of human progress to be more innovative, since innovation depends on human capital.

And, of course, there is all sorts of research on this stuff. Nonetheless, nice to see it shows up in a simple correlational analysis. Code is here.

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