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The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians

  • Doran, Kirk
  • Borjas, George J.

It has been difficult to open up the black box of knowledge production. We use unique international data on the publications, citations, and affiliations of mathematicians to examine the impact of a large post-1992 influx of Soviet mathematicians on the productivity of their American counterparts. We find a negative productivity effect on those mathematicians whose research overlapped with that of the Soviets. We also document an increased mobility rate (to lower-quality institutions and out of active publishing) and a reduced likelihood of producing “home run†papers. Although the total product of the pre-existing American mathematicians shrank, the Soviet contribution to American mathematics filled in the gap. However, there is no evidence that the Soviets greatly increased the size of the “mathematics pie.†Finally, we find that there are significant international differences in the productivity effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that these international differences can be explained by both differences in the size of the émigré flow into the various countries and in how connected each country is to the global market for mathematical publications.

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File URL: http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/8160722/RWP12-004-Borjas.pdf
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Paper provided by Harvard Kennedy School of Government in its series Scholarly Articles with number 8160722.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Handle: RePEc:hrv:hksfac:8160722
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  1. Jennifer Hunt & Marjolaine Gauthier-Loiselle, 2008. "How Much Does Immigration Boost Innovation?," NBER Working Papers 14312, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve Is Downward Sloping: Reexamining The Impact Of Immigration On The Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1335-1374, November.
  3. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  4. Robert E. Lucas, 2009. "Ideas and Growth," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(301), pages 1-19, 02.
  5. Fabian Waldinger, 2009. "Peer Effects in Science - Evidence from the Dismissal of Scientists in Nazi Germany," CEP Discussion Papers dp0910, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Fabian Waldinger, 2010. "Quality Matters: The Expulsion of Professors and the Consequences for PhD Student Outcomes in Nazi Germany," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 787-831, 08.
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