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Diaspora Networks, Knowledge Flows and Brain Drain

  • Ajay Agrawal

    (University of Toronto and NBER.)

I summarize key findings from the literature on how distance, relationships, and ethnic ties influence knowledge flows and describe a model that relates emigration and the diaspora to knowledge flows. I then recap a key study that reports evidence of a link from the diaspora and knowledge flows to home country manufacturing productivity. Next, I summarize the ways in which intellectual property protection may influence knowledge flow patterns through incentives (market for ideas) and disincentives (anticommons). Finally, I speculate on how diaspora knowledge flows and intellectual property may alleviate developing country low-productivity equilibria (“poverty traps”) caused by an underinvestment in specialized human capital.

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Paper provided by World Intellectual Property Organization - Economics and Statistics Division in its series WIPO Economic Research Working Papers with number 15.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wip:wpaper:15
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  1. Agrawal, Ajay & Kapur, Devesh & McHale, John, 2008. "How do spatial and social proximity influence knowledge flows? Evidence from patent data," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 258-269, September.
  2. William R. Kerr, 2008. "The Agglomeration of US Ethnic Inventors," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-003, Harvard Business School.
  3. Gerlach, Heiko A. & Rønde, Thomas & Stahl, Konrad, 2005. "Labour Pooling in R&D Intensive Industries," CEPR Discussion Papers 5285, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles, 2001. "Labour Pooling, Labour Poaching and Spatial Clustering," CEPR Discussion Papers 2975, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Peter Thompson & Melanie Fox-Kean, 2005. "Patent Citations and the Geography of Knowledge Spillovers: A Reassessment: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 465-466, March.
  6. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1992. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," NBER Working Papers 3993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Heidi L. Williams, 2013. "Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation: Evidence from the Human Genome," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(1), pages 1 - 27.
  8. Joshua S. Gans & David H. Hsu & Scott Stern, 2007. "The Impact of Uncertain Intellectual Property Rights on the Market For Ideas: Evidence From Patent Grant Delays," NBER Working Papers 13234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Zvi Griliches, 1958. "Research Costs and Social Returns: Hybrid Corn and Related Innovations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 419.
  10. Teece, David J., 1993. "Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 112-113, April.
  11. Peter Thompson & Melanie Fox-Kean, 2005. "Patent Citations and the Geography of Knowledge Spillovers: A Reassessment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 450-460, March.
  12. Manuel Trajtenberg, 1990. "A Penny for Your Quotes: Patent Citations and the Value of Innovations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 172-187, Spring.
  13. Frédéric Docquier & Hillel Rapoport, 2011. "Globalization, Brain Drain and Development," Working Papers 2011-18, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  14. Benjamin F. Jones, 2008. "The Knowledge Trap: Human Capital and Development Reconsidered," NBER Working Papers 14138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Ajay Agrawal & Devesh Kapur & John McHale, 2008. "Brain Drain or Brain Bank? The Impact of Skilled Emigration on Poor-Country Innovation," NBER Working Papers 14592, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Stefano Breschi & Francesco Lissoni, 2001. "Knowledge spillovers and local innovation systems: a critical survey," LIUC Papers in Economics 84, Cattaneo University (LIUC).
  17. William R. Kerr, 2008. "Ethnic Scientific Communities and International Technology Diffusion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 518-537, August.
  18. Ramana Nanda & Tarun Khanna, 2007. "Diasporas and Domestic Entrepreneurs: Evidence from the Indian Software Industry," Harvard Business School Working Papers 08-003, Harvard Business School, revised Feb 2009.
  19. Murray, Fiona & Stern, Scott, 2007. "Do formal intellectual property rights hinder the free flow of scientific knowledge?: An empirical test of the anti-commons hypothesis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 648-687, August.
  20. Fiona E. Murray & Scott Stern, 2007. "Do Formal Intellectual Property Rights Hinder the Free Flow of Scientific Knowledge?: An Empirical Test of the Anti-Commons Hypothesis," NBER Chapters, in: Academic Science and Entrepreneurship: Dual Engines of Growth National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Stefano Breschi & Francesco Lissoni, 2009. "Mobility of skilled workers and co-invention networks: an anatomy of localized knowledge flows," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(4), pages 439-468, July.
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