Fact of the Week: A Twofold Increase in Immigrant Inventors Produces a 25 to 60 Percent Increase in Patenting Related to Technologies That the Immigrants’ Native Countries Specialize In

Caleb Foote October 19, 2020
October 19, 2020

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Source: Dany Bahar, Prithwiraj Choudhury, and Hillel Rapoport, “Migrant Inventors and the Technological Advantage of Nations,” IZA Institute of Labor Economics, Discussion Paper No. 12994, February 2020.

Commentary: Considerable research, including from ITIF, has shown that STEM immigrants play an important role in driving invention and innovation. A new study confirms this, finding 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 nations that specialize in those same technologies.

The authors write, “Our results generalize the evidence of previous studies that show how migrant inventors ‘import’ knowledge from their home countries, which translates into higher patenting in the receiving countries. We interpret these results as tangible evidence of migrants facilitating the technology-specific diffusion of knowledge across nations.”