NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Innovation in the U.S. High-Tech Sector

J. David Brown, John S. Earle, Mee Jung Kim, Kyung Min Lee

NBER Working Paper No. 25565
Issued in February 2019
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies Program, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program

We estimate differences in innovation behavior between foreign versus U.S.-born entrepreneurs in high-tech industries. Our data come from the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, a random sample of firms with detailed information on owner characteristics and innovation activities. We find uniformly higher rates of innovation in immigrant-owned firms for 15 of 16 different innovation measures; the only exception is for copyright/trademark. The immigrant advantage holds for older firms as well as for recent start-ups and for every level of the entrepreneur’s education. The size of the estimated immigrant-native differences in product and process innovation activities rises with detailed controls for demographic and human capital characteristics but falls for R&D and patenting. Controlling for finance, motivations, and industry reduces all coefficients, but for most measures and specifications immigrants are estimated to have a sizable advantage in innovation.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25565

Forthcoming: Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Innovation in the U.S. High-Tech Sector, J. David Brown, John S. Earle, Mee Jung Kim, Kyung Min Lee. in The Roles of Immigrants and Foreign Students in U.S. Science, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, Ganguli, Kahn, and MacGarvie. 2019

 
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