The Role of Immigrants and Foreign Students
in Science, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

April 27, 2018

Cambridge, MA

To promote research on the role of immigrants and foreign students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce, and their impact on innovation, productivity, knowledge diffusion and entrepreneurship, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), with the support of the National Science Foundation Science of Science and Innovation Policy Program and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, will hold a research conference on April 27, 2018. The conference will be organized by Richard Freeman (Harvard University and NBER), Ina Ganguli (University of Massachusetts at Amherst), Shulamit Kahn (Boston University), William Kerr (Harvard University and NBER), and Megan MacGarvie (Boston University and NBER). The goals of the conference are to stimulate and share academic research on high-skilled immigration and the STEM labor force, to synthesize and disseminate this research to the policy and business communities, and to engage in dialogue with these communities to inform researchers about unanswered questions.

Submissions of original research related to the conference theme are welcome, including, but not limited to, the following topics:

    *What are the impacts of changes in the supply of high-skilled immigrants and foreign students on: scientific research, knowledge diffusion, innovation, or nativesÂ’ educational choices and occupational outcomes?

    *How have shifts in immigration policies affected high-skilled immigration? What can we learn from historical evidence on high-skilled immigration and innovation? What are the barriers, if any, to the full utilization of high-skilled immigrantsÂ’ human capital in receiving countries?

    *What economic, political and cultural factors within the US and in home countries affect return migration of highly skilled foreign immigrants and students? How significant a threat to the US STEM labor force is this return migration likely to be? How does return migration affect international research collaboration and knowledge diffusion?

    *What explains differences in rates of entrepreneurship between natives and immigrants? Are the explanations the same or different for science-based and high-tech start-ups?

While the primary focus of the conference is on the U.S. economy, the organizers will also welcome submissions focusing on data or policies from other countries. Empirical papers or those combining theory and empirics are preferred. The organizers encourage submissions by scholars who are early in their careers, who are not NBER affiliates, and who are from groups that are under-represented in the economics profession. Selected papers will be considered for publication in an edited volume or special issue of a refereed journal. Papers that have already been accepted for publication and that will be published by April 2018 are not eligible for presentation.

Interested authors are encouraged to submit a two-page abstract of their paper in a pdf file by October 31, 2017 to

Authors will be notified of acceptance by December 8th, 2017. A pre-workshop is scheduled to be held in Cambridge, MA on January 26th, 2018. At least one author from each accepted paper will be expected to participate in the January as well as the April meeting.

Authors of accepted papers will be reimbursed for regular transportation expenses for both events, and receive an honorarium of $5,000 for timely submission of the draft and final manuscripts. Authors will be required to submit a several-page executive summary of their paper prior to the conference. This summary will be posted on the NBER webpage along with information on the conference. Accepted papers may also be included in the NBER working paper series. Questions about this conference may be addressed to

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