Immigration and the Rise of American Ingenuity
This paper builds on the analysis in Akcigit et al. (2017) by using US patent and Census data to examine macro and micro-level aspects of the relationship between immigration and innovation. We construct a measure of foreign born expertise and show that technology areas where immigrant inventors were prevalent between 1880 and 1940 experienced more patenting and citations between 1940 and 2000. We also show that immigrant inventors were more productive during their life cycle than native born inventors, although they received significantly lower levels of labor income than their native born counterparts. Overall, the contribution of foreign born inventors to US innovation was substantial, but we also find evidence of an immigrant inventor wage-gap that cannot be explained by differentials in productivity.
We thank the Minnesota Population Center for access to the Census data. Akcigit gratefully acknowledges the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for financial support. Nicholas received funding from the Division of Research and Faculty Development at Harvard Business School. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Ufuk Akcigit & John Grigsby & Tom Nicholas, 2017. "Immigration and the Rise of American Ingenuity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 327-331, May. citation courtesy of