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Migrant inventors and the technological advantage of nations

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We investigate the relationship between the presence of migrant inventors and the dynamics of innovation in the migrants’ receiving countries. We find that countries are 25 to 60 percent more likely to gain advantage in patenting in certain technologies given a twofold increase in the number of foreign inventors from other nations that specialize in those same technologies. For the average country in our sample, this number corresponds to only 25 inventors and a standard deviation of 135. We deal with endogeneity concerns by using historical migration networks to instrument for stocks of migrant inventors. Our results generalize the evidence of previous studies that show how migrant inventors “import” knowledge from their home countries, which translates into higher patenting. We interpret these results as tangible evidence of migrants facilitating the technology-specific diffusion of knowledge across nations.

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Prithwiraj Choudhury

Lumry Family Associate Professor of Business Administration - Harvard Business School

H

Hillel Rapoport

Professor - Paris School of Economics, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Scientific Advisor - CEPII

Research Network Fellow - CESifo

Research Fellow - IZA

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