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Immigration and the Rise of American Ingenuity

Author

Listed:
  • Ufuk Akcigit
  • John Grigsby
  • Tom Nicholas

Abstract

We build on the analysis in Akcigit, Grigsby, and Nicholas (2017) by using US patent and census data to examine the relationship between immigration and innovation. We construct a measure of foreign born expertise and show that technology areas where immigrant inventors were prevalent between 1880 and 1940 experienced more patenting and citations between 1940 and 2000. The contribution of immigrant inventors to US innovation was substantial. We also show that immigrant inventors were more productive than native born inventors; however, they received significantly lower levels of labor income. The immigrant inventor wage-gap cannot be explained by differentials in productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • Ufuk Akcigit & John Grigsby & Tom Nicholas, 2017. "Immigration and the Rise of American Ingenuity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 327-331, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:5:p:327-31
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.p20171021
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Benjamin F. Jones, 2009. "The Burden of Knowledge and the "Death of the Renaissance Man": Is Innovation Getting Harder?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 283-317.
    2. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth through Creative Destruction," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 323-351, March.
    3. William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2010. "The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and U.S. Ethnic Invention," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(3), pages 473-508, July.
    4. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Erik Hurst & Charles I. Jones & Peter J. Klenow, 2013. "The Allocation of Talent and U.S. Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 18693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2017. "Religious Tolerance as Engine of Innovation," CESifo Working Paper Series 6797, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Drivas, Kyriakos & Economidou, Claire & Karamanis, Dimitris & Sanders, Mark, 2018. "Mobility of Highly Skilled Individuals and Local Innovation Activity," MPRA Paper 88883, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Andrea Morrison & Sergio Petralia & Dario Diodato, 2018. "Migration and invention in the age of mass migration," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1835, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Oct 2018.
    4. Timothy J Hatton & Zachary Ward, 2018. "International Migration in the Atlantic Economy 1850 - 1940," CEH Discussion Papers 02, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • N71 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N72 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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