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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. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 9755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Robert E. Lucas, 2009. "Ideas and Growth," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(301), pages 1-19, 02.
  3. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  4. 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.
  5. Fabian Waldinger, 2009. "Peer Effects in Science - Evidence from the Dismissal of Scientists in Nazi Germany," CEP Discussion Papers dp0910, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Jennifer Hunt & Marjolaine Gauthier-Loiselle, 2008. "How Much Does Immigration Boost Innovation?," Departmental Working Papers 2008-07, McGill University, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Michael Boehm & Martin Watzinger, 2012. "The Allocation of Talent over the Business Cycle and its Effect on Sectoral Productivity," CEP Discussion Papers dp1143, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Depew, Briggs & Norlander, Peter & Sorensen, Todd A., 2013. "Flight of the H-1B: Inter-Firm Mobility and Return Migration Patterns for Skilled Guest Workers," IZA Discussion Papers 7456, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln & Prachi Mishra, 2011. "The Dynamics of Firm Lobbying," NBER Working Papers 17577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bosquet, Clément & Combes, Pierre-Philippe, 2013. "Do large departments make academics more productive? Agglomeration and peer effects in research," CEPR Discussion Papers 9401, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2012. "Immigration and the Distribution of Incomes," NBER Working Papers 18515, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2014. "Skilled Immigration and the Employment Structures of U.S. Firms," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp1071, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  7. Mahmoud, Toman Omar & Rapoport, Hillel & Steinmayr, Andreas & Trebesch, Christoph, 2014. "The Effect of Labor Migration on the Diffusion of Democracy: Evidence from a Former Soviet Republic," IZA Discussion Papers 7980, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Kirk B. Doran & George J. Borjas, 2013. "Which Peers Matter? The Relative Impacts of Collaborators, Colleagues, and Competitors," Working Papers 021, University of Notre Dame, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2013.
  9. Bobtcheff, Catherine & Bolte, Jérôme & Mariotti, Thomas, 2013. "Researcher's Dilemma," IDEI Working Papers 763, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  10. Nathan, Max, 2013. "The Wider Economic Impacts of High-Skilled Migrants: A Survey of the Literature," IZA Discussion Papers 7653, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Dubois, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles & Schlenker, Jean-Marc, 2010. "Productivity and Mobility in Academic Research: Evidence from Mathematicians," IDEI Working Papers 606, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Mar 2013.
  12. Franzoni, Chiara & Scellato, Giuseppe & Stephan, Paula, 2014. "The mover’s advantage: The superior performance of migrant scientists," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 89-93.

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