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How Much Does Immigration Boost Innovation?

  • Jennifer Hunt

    ()

  • Marjolaine Gauthier-Loiselle

    ()

We measure the extent to which skilled immigrants increase innovation in the United States by exploring individual patenting behavior as well as state-level determinants of patenting. The 2003 National Survey of College Graduates shows that immigrants patent at double the native rate, and that this is entirely accounted for by their disproportionately holding degrees in science and engineering. These data imply that a one percentage point rise in the share of immigrant college graduates in the population increases patents per capita by 6%. This could be an overestimate of immigration's benefit if immigrant investors crowd out native investors, or an underestimate if immigrantes have positive spill-overs on investors. Using a 1950-2000 state panel, we show that natives are not crowded out by immigrants, and that immigrants do have positive spill-overs, resulting in an increase in patents per capita of about 15% in response to a one percentage point increase in immigrant college graduates. We isolate the causal effect by instrumenting the change in the share of skilled immigrants in a state with the initial share of immigrant high school dropouts from Europe, China and India. In both data sets, the positive impacts of immigrant post-college graduates and scientists and engineers are larger than for immigrant college graduates.

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Paper provided by McGill University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 2008-07.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcl:mclwop:2008-07
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  1. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2000. "Do Immigrant Inflows Lead to Native Outflows?," NBER Working Papers 7578, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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, 07.
  3. Hall, B. & Jaffe, A. & Trajtenberg, M., 2001. "The NBER Patent Citations Data File: Lessons, Insights and Methodological Tools," Papers 2001-29, Tel Aviv.
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  7. Griliches, Zvi, 1990. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(4), pages 1661-1707, December.
  8. Hicks, Diana & Breitzman, Tony & Olivastro, Dominic & Hamilton, Kimberly, 2001. "The changing composition of innovative activity in the US -- a portrait based on patent analysis," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 681-703, April.
  9. John S. Landon-Lane & Catherine Y. Co & Myeong-Su Yun, 2006. "Inter-state dynamics of invention activities, 1930-2000," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(8), pages 1111-1134.
  10. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne & Stanger, Shuchita, 1999. "The Highs and Lows of the Minimum Wage Effect: A Time-Series Cross-Section Study of the Canadian Law," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 318-50, April.
  11. Paserman, M. Daniele, 2008. "Do High-Skill Immigrants Raise Productivity? Evidence from Israeli manufacturing Firms, 1990-1999," CEPR Discussion Papers 6896, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Morgan, Robert P & Kruytbosch, Carlos & Kannankutty, Nirmala, 2001. " Patenting and Invention Activity of U.S. Scientists and Engineers in the Academic Sector: Comparisons with Industry," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(1-2), pages 173-83, January.
  13. Giovanni Peri & Chad Sparber, 2008. "Highly-Educated Immigrants and Native Occupational Choice," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0813, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  14. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth Through Creative Destruction," Scholarly Articles 12490578, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. David Card, 1996. "Immigrant Inflows, Native Outflows, and the Local Labor Market Impacts of Higher Immigration," Working Papers 747, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  16. Niebuhr, Annekatrin, 2006. "Migration and innovation: Does cultural diversity matter for regional R&D activity?," HWWI Research Papers 3-1, .
  17. Lynne G. Zucker & Michael R. Darby & Jonathan Furner & Robert C. Liu & Hongyan Ma, 2006. "Minerva Unbound: Knowledge Stocks, Knowledge Flows and New Knowledge Production," NBER Working Papers 12669, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. repec:fth:harver:1473 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Jaffe, Adam B & Trajtenberg, Manuel & Henderson, Rebecca, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-98, August.
  20. Agrawal, Ajay & Kapur, Devesh & McHale, John & Oettl, Alexander, 2011. "Brain drain or brain bank? The impact of skilled emigration on poor-country innovation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 43-55, January.
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  22. Jones, Charles I, 1995. "Time Series Tests of Endogenous Growth Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 495-525, May.
  23. William R. Kerr, 2007. "The Ethnic Composition of US Inventors," Harvard Business School Working Papers 08-006, Harvard Business School.
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