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Which Peers Matter? The Relative Impacts of Collaborators, Colleagues, and Competitors

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  • Kirk B. Doran

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Notre Dame)

  • George J. Borjas

    (Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University)

Abstract

Many economists believe that knowledge production generates positive spillovers among knowledge producers. We argue that spillovers may exist on at least three dimensions (in idea, geographic, and collaboration space), and that the strength or weakness of the spillover effects can vary across these dimensions. Using a unique data set that contains information on all publications of active mathematicians in the former Soviet Union, we examine the impact of a large post-­1992 exodus of Soviet mathematicians on the output of the non-­emigres. We find that a supply shock in the space of ideas (i.e., where the exodus consists of peers who work in similar topics) increases the output of the non-­emigres. However, neither a supply shock in geographic space (i.e., where the émigrés are members of the same university department) nor in collaboration space (i.e., where the emigres consist of coauthors) has a statistically significant effect on the output of a typical mathematician. We find evidence of human capital externalities only if the supply shock in collaboration space involves the loss of high-­quality coauthors. Spillovers, therefore, are most likely to be empirically important and dominate the competitive forces unleashed by a supply shock when high-­quality researchers are directly engaged in the joint production of new knowledge.

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File URL: http://www3.nd.edu/~tjohns20/RePEc/deendus/wpaper/021_USSR.pdf
File Function: First version, 2013
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Notre Dame, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 021.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2013
Date of revision: Mar 2013
Handle: RePEc:nod:wpaper:021

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Keywords: Emigration;

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  1. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr, 2013. "Immigration and Employer Transitions for STEM Workers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 193-97, May.
  2. George J. Borjas & Kirk B. Doran, 2012. "The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians," NBER Working Papers 17800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jeffrey Grogger & Gordon H. Hanson, 2013. "Attracting Talent: Location Choices of Foreign-Born PhDs in the US," NBER Working Papers 18780, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Chiara Franzoni & Giuseppe Scellato & Paula Stephan, 2012. "The Mover's Advantage: Scientific Performance of Mobile Academics," NBER Working Papers 18577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Ajay Agrawal & Avi Goldfarb & Florenta Teodoridis, 2013. "Does Knowledge Accumulation Increase the Returns to Collaboration?," NBER Working Papers 19694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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