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Taxation and the International Mobility of Inventors

Listed author(s):
  • Akcigit, Ufuk
  • Baslandze, Salomé
  • Stantcheva, Stefanie

This paper studies the effect of top tax rates on inventors' mobility since 1977. We put special emphasis on "superstar" inventors, those with the most and most valuable patents. We use panel data on inventors from the United States and European Patent Offices to track inventors' locations over time and combine it with international effective top tax rate data. We construct a detailed set of proxies for inventors' counterfactual incomes in each possible destination country including, among others, measures of patent quality and technological fit with each potential destination. We find that superstar top 1% inventors are significantly affected by top tax rates when deciding where to locate. The elasticity of the number of domestic inventors to the net-of-tax rate is relatively small, between 0.04 and 0.06, while the elasticity of the number of foreign inventors is much larger, around 1.3. The elasticities to top net-of-tax rates decline as one moves down the quality distribution of inventors. Inventors who work in multinational companies are more likely to take advantage of tax differentials. On the other hand, if the company of an inventor has a higher share of its research activity in a given country, the inventor is less sensitive to the tax rate in that country.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 10565.

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Date of creation: May 2015
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10565
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  1. Ernest MIGUELEZ, 2014. "Inventor diasporas and the internationalization of technology," Cahiers du GREThA 2014-12, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
  2. Etienne Lehmann & Laurent Simula & Alain Trannoy, 2014. "Tax me if you can! Optimal Nonlinear Income Tax Between Competing Governments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(4), pages 1995-2030.
  3. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2014. "Optimal Taxation of Top Labor Incomes: A Tale of Three Elasticities," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 230-271, February.
  4. Moretti, Enrico & Wilson, Daniel J., 2014. "State incentives for innovation, star scientists and jobs: Evidence from biotech," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 20-38.
  5. Hall, B. & Jaffe, A. & Trajtenberg, M., 2001. "The NBER Patent Citations Data File: Lessons, Insights and Methodological Tools," Papers 2001-29, Tel Aviv.
  6. Guner, Nezih & Lopez-Daneri, Martin & Ventura, Gustavo, 2016. "Heterogeneity and Government revenues: Higher taxes at the top?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 69-85.
  7. Gabriel Zucman, 2013. "The Missing Wealth of Nations: Are Europe and the U.S. net Debtors or net Creditors?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(3), pages 1321-1364.
  8. Young, Cristobal & Varner, Charles, 2011. "Millionaire Migration and State Taxation of Top Incomes: Evidence From a Natural Experiment," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 64(2), pages 255-283, June.
  9. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Camille Landais & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "Taxation and International Migration of Superstars: Evidence from the European Football Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1892-1924, August.
  10. Harhoff, Dietmar & Hoisl, Karin, 2007. "Institutionalized incentives for ingenuity--Patent value and the German Employees' Inventions Act," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 1143-1162, October.
  11. William R. Kerr, 2013. "U.S. High-Skilled Immigration, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship: Empirical Approaches and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 19377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. David S. Abrams & Ufuk Akcigit & Jillian Popadak, 2013. "Patent Value and Citations: Creative Destruction or Strategic Disruption?," NBER Working Papers 19647, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. repec:wip:wpaper:8 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Jon Bakija & Joel Slemrod, 2004. "Do the Rich Flee from High State Taxes? Evidence from Federal Estate Tax Returns," Department of Economics Working Papers 2004-12, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  15. Simula, Laurent & Trannoy, Alain, 2010. "Optimal income tax under the threat of migration by top-income earners," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 163-173, February.
  16. Ernest Miguelez & Carsten Fink, 2013. "Measuring the International Mobility of Inventors: A New Database," WIPO Economic Research Working Papers 08, World Intellectual Property Organization - Economics and Statistics Division, revised May 2013.
  17. Abadie, Alberto & Diamond, Alexis & Hainmueller, Jens, 2010. "Synthetic Control Methods for Comparative Case Studies: Estimating the Effect of California’s Tobacco Control Program," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 105(490), pages 493-505.
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