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Skilled Immigration and Innovation: Evidence from Enrollment Fluctuations in U.S. Doctoral Programs

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  • Maskus, Keith
  • Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq
  • Stuen, Eric T.

Abstract

We study the contribution of foreign science and engineering talent to the creation of new knowledge in the U.S. economy using panel data on 2300 science and engineering (S&E) departments at 100 large American universities from 1973 to 1998. We use macroeconomic shocks and policy changes in source countries that differentially affect enrollments across fields and universities to isolate exogenous variation in the supply of students at specific departments. Both foreign and domestic graduate students are central inputs into knowledge creation, and the marginal foreign student contributes more to the production of scientific publications and citations. A 10% decrease in the foreign share of doctoral students lowers S&E research output at U.S. universities by 5-6%. A theoretical model of university admissions and scholarships helps us infer the productivity effects of student quality, and econometric results indicate that any visa restrictions limiting entry of high-quality foreign students is most costly for U.S. innovation. Increased diversity appears to be the primary mechanism by which foreign students improve research outcomes. The impact of more restrictive immigration policies depends on how they affect the quality margin and diversity of incoming foreigners.

Suggested Citation

  • Maskus, Keith & Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq & Stuen, Eric T., 2010. "Skilled Immigration and Innovation: Evidence from Enrollment Fluctuations in U.S. Doctoral Programs," CEPR Discussion Papers 7709, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7709
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William Kerr & Çağlar Özden & Christopher Parsons, 2016. "Global Talent Flows," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 83-106, Fall.
    2. Nune Hovhannisyan & Wolfgang Keller, 2015. "International business travel: an engine of innovation?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 75-104, March.
    3. Massimiliano Bratti & Chiara Conti, 2014. "The Effect of (Mostly Unskilled) Immigration on the Innovation of Italian Regions," ERSA conference papers ersa14p485, European Regional Science Association.
    4. Jennifer Hunt, 2011. "Which Immigrants Are Most Innovative and Entrepreneurial? Distinctions by Entry Visa," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(3), pages 417-457.
    5. Bosetti, Valentina & Cattaneo, Cristina & Verdolini, Elena, 2015. "Migration of skilled workers and innovation: A European Perspective," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 311-322.
    6. 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.
    7. Gordon H. Hanson & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2017. "High-Skilled Immigration and the Rise of STEM Occupations in US Employment," NBER Chapters, in: Education, Skills, and Technical Change: Implications for Future US GDP Growth, pages 465-494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Khosla, Pooja, 2018. "Wait time for permanent residency and the retention of immigrant doctoral recipients in the U.S," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 33-43.
    9. Jeffrey Grogger & Gordon H. Hanson, 2015. "Attracting Talent: Location Choices of Foreign-Born PhDs in the United States," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(S1), pages 5-38.
    10. Valentina Bosetti & Cristina Cattaneo & Elena Verdolini, 2012. "Migration, Cultural Diversity and Innovation: A European Perspective," Working Papers 2012.69, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    11. Winters, John V., 2014. "Foreign and Native-Born STEM Graduates and Innovation Intensity in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 8575, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    foreign graduate students; high-skilled immigration; immigration; innovation; visa policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • P33 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - International Trade, Finance, Investment, Relations, and Aid

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