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Migration, Knowledge Diffusion and the Comparative Advantage of Nations

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  • Dany Bahar
  • Hillel Rapoport

Abstract

Do migrants shape the dynamic comparative advantage of their sending and receiving countries? To answer this question we study the drivers of knowledge diffusion by looking at the dynamics of the export basket of countries, with particular focus on migration. The fact that knowledge diffusion requires direct human interaction implies that the international diffusion of knowledge should follow the pattern of international migration. This is what this paper documents. Our main finding is that migration, and particularly skilled immigration, is a strong and robust driver of productive knowledge diffusion as measured by the appearance and growth of tradable goods in the migrants’ receiving and sending countries. We find that a 10% increase in the stock of immigrants from countries exporters of a given product is associated with a 2% increase in the likelihood that the host country will start exporting that good “from scratch” in the following 10-year period. In terms of ability to expand the export basket of countries, a migrant with college education or above is about ten times more “effective” than an unskilled migrant. The results are robust to accounting for shifts in product-specific global demand, to excluding bilateral trade possibly generated by network effects, as well as to instrumenting for migration using a gravity model.

Suggested Citation

  • Dany Bahar & Hillel Rapoport, 2016. "Migration, Knowledge Diffusion and the Comparative Advantage of Nations," CESifo Working Paper Series 5769, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5769
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
    9. Bahar, Dany & Hausmann, Ricardo & Hidalgo, Cesar A., 2014. "Neighbors and the evolution of the comparative advantage of nations: Evidence of international knowledge diffusion?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 111-123.
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    11. Maurice Kugler & Hillel Rapoport, 2011. "Migration, FDI and the Margins of Trade," CID Working Papers 222, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hillel Rapoport, 2018. "Diaspora externalities: A view from the South," WIDER Working Paper Series 025, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Walter Steingress, 2018. "The causal impact of migration on US trade: Evidence from political refugees," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 51(4), pages 1312-1338, November.
    3. Hartmann, Dominik & Bezerra, Mayra & Pinheiro, Flávio L., 2019. "Identifying smart strategies for economic diversification and inclusive growth in developing economies: The case of Paraguay," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 04-2019, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.
    4. Michał Burzyński & Frédéric Docquier & Hillel Rapoport, 2018. "The Changing Structure of Immigration to the OECD: What Welfare Effects on Member Countries?," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 66(3), pages 564-601, September.
    5. Ricardo Hausmann & Juan Obach & Miguel Angel Santos, 2016. "Special Economic Zones in Panama: Technology Spillovers from a Labor Market Perspective," CID Working Papers 326, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    6. Hausmann, Ricardo & Obach, Juan & Santos, Miquel Angel, 2016. "Special Economic Zones in Panama: A Critical Assessment," Working Paper Series rwp16-044, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    7. Ron Boschma, 2018. "The geographical dimension of structural change," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1839, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Nov 2018.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    migration; knowledge diffusion; comparative advantage; exports;

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • F62 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Macroeconomic Impacts
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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