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German-Jewish Emigres and U.S. Invention


  • Petra Moser
  • Alessandra Voena
  • Fabian Waldinger


Historical accounts suggest that Jewish émigrés from Nazi Germany revolutionized U.S. science. To analyze the émigrés' effects on chemical innovation in the U.S. we compare changes in patenting by U.S. inventors in research fields of émigrés with fields of other German chemists. Patenting by U.S. inventors increased by 31 percent in émigré fields. Regressions that instrument for émigré fields with pre-1933 fields of dismissed German chemists confirm a substantial increase in U.S. invention. Inventor-level data indicate that émigrés encouraged innovation by attracting new researchers to their fields, rather than by increasing the productivity of incumbent inventors.

Suggested Citation

  • Petra Moser & Alessandra Voena & Fabian Waldinger, 2014. "German-Jewish Emigres and U.S. Invention," NBER Working Papers 19962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19962
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. George J. Borjas & Kirk B. Doran, 2012. "The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1143-1203.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2015. "Skilled Immigration and the Employment Structures of US Firms," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(S1), pages 147-186.
    2. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr, 2016. "Immigrant Entrepreneurship," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring Entrepreneurial Businesses: Current Knowledge and Challenges, pages 187-249 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Nathan, Max, 2013. "The Wider Economic Impacts of High-Skilled Migrants: A Survey of the Literature," IZA Discussion Papers 7653, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Ganguli, Ina, 2014. "Immigration & Ideas: What Did Russian Scientists 'Bring' to the US?," SITE Working Paper Series 30, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics.
    5. 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.
    6. Bertanha Marinho & Moser Petra, 2016. "Spatial Errors in Count Data Regressions," Journal of Econometric Methods, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 49-69, January.
    7. 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.
    8. Lewis, Ethan & Peri, Giovanni, 2015. "Immigration and the Economy of Cities and Regions," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    9. Liebert, H. & Mäder, B., 2016. "Marginal effects of physician coverage on infant and disease mortality," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 16/17, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    10. Petra Moser, 2012. "Patent Laws and Innovation: Evidence from Economic History," NBER Working Papers 18631, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Bakker, Gerben & Crafts, Nicholas & Woltjer, Pieter, 2015. "A vision of the growth process in a technologically progressive economy: the United States, 1899-1941," Economic History Working Papers 64779, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    12. Liebert, Helge & Mäder, Beatrice, 2017. "The impact of regional health care coverage on infant mortality and disease incidence," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168103, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    13. Ina Ganguli, 2015. "Immigration and Ideas: What Did Russian Scientists "Bring" to the United States?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(S1), pages 257-288.
    14. William F. Maloney & Felipe Valencia Caicedo, 2017. "Engineering Growth: Innovative Capacity and Development in the Americas," CESifo Working Paper Series 6339, CESifo Group Munich.
    15. Fackler, Thomas A. & Nagler, Markus & Schnitzer, Monika & Watzinger, Martin, 2017. "How Antitrust Enforcement Can Spur Innovation: Bell Labs and the 1956 Consent Decree," CEPR Discussion Papers 11793, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Wim Naudé & Paula Nagler, 2018. "Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Productivity in Germany, 1871-2015," SPRU Working Paper Series 2018-02, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    17. Liebert, Helge & Mäder, Beatrice, 2016. "The impact of regional health care coverage on infant mortality and disease incidence," Economics Working Paper Series 1620, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    18. Orazbayev, Sultan, 2017. "Immigration barriers and net brain drain," MPRA Paper 78058, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Baten, Joerg & Bianchi, Nicola & Moser, Petra, 2017. "Compulsory licensing and innovation – Historical evidence from German patents after WWI," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 231-242.
    20. Watzinger, Martin & Fackler, Thomas A. & Nagler, Markus, 2017. "How Antitrust Enforcement Can Spur Innovation," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 4, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    21. HASHIMOTO Yuki, 2017. "Highly Skilled Immigrants' Occupational Choices and the Japanese Employment System," Discussion papers 17059, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    22. Timothy J Hatton & Zachary Ward, 2018. "International Migration in the Atlantic Economy 1850 - 1940," CEH Discussion Papers 02, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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