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The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians

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  • George J. Borjas
  • Kirk B. Doran

Abstract

It has been difficult to open up the black box of knowledge production. We use unique international data on the publications, citations, and affiliations of mathematicians to examine the impact of a large, post-1992 influx of Soviet mathematicians on the productivity of their U.S. counterparts. We find a negative productivity effect on those mathematicians whose research overlapped with that of the Soviets. We also document an increased mobility rate (to lower quality institutions and out of active publishing) and a reduced likelihood of producing "home run" papers. Although the total product of the preexisting American mathematicians shrank, the Soviet contribution to American mathematics filled in the gap. However, there is no evidence that the Soviets greatly increased the size of the "mathematics pie." Finally, we find that there are significant international differences in the productivity effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and these international differences can be explained by both differences in the size of the émigré flow into the various countries and in how connected each country is to the global market for mathematical publications. JEL Codes: O31, J61. Copyright 2012, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 127 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 1143-1203

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Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:127:y:2012:i:3:p:1143-1203

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  1. Fabian Waldinger, 2010. "Quality Matters: The Expulsion of Professors and the Consequences for PhD Student Outcomes in Nazi Germany," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 787-831, 08.
  2. Robert E. Lucas, 2009. "Ideas and Growth," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(301), pages 1-19, 02.
  3. Jennifer Hunt & Marjolaine Gauthier-Loiselle, 2008. "How Much Does Immigration Boost Innovation?," Departmental Working Papers 2008-07, McGill University, Department of Economics.
  4. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve Is Downward Sloping: Reexamining The Impact Of Immigration On The Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1335-1374, November.
  5. Fabian Waldinger, 2009. "Peer effects in science: evidence from the dismissal of scientists in Nazi Germany," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 28518, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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