NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and US Ethnic Invention

William R. Kerr, William F. Lincoln

NBER Working Paper No. 15768
Issued in February 2010
NBER Program(s):   LS   PR

This study evaluates the impact of high-skilled immigrants on US technology formation. We use reduced-form specifications that exploit large changes in the H-1B visa program. Higher H-1B admissions increase immigrant science and engineering (SE) employment and patenting by inventors with Indian and Chinese names in cities and firms dependent upon the program relative to their peers. Most specifications find limited effects for native SE employment or patenting. We are able to rule out displacement effects, and small crowding-in effects may exist. Total SE employment and invention increases with higher admissions primarily through direct contributions of immigrants.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15768

Published: William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2010. "The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and U.S. Ethnic Invention," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(3), pages 473-508, 07. citation courtesy of

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