“Immigration and innovation: Chinese graduate students in U.S. universities” (with Mario Piacentini) (Shorter version forthcoming at the Review of Economics and Statistics)
Immigration is rapidly changing the composition of the R&D workforce in the United States, with important implications for both management and public policy. We study here the Chinese chemists and chemical engineers who migrate to the United States for their graduate studies. We analyze productivity at the individual researcher level, thus bypassing the difficult identification issues that earlier studies had to confront when analyzing the relationship between immigration and innovation at the university or firm level. Using new data and measurement techniques, we find robust evidence that Chinese students make disproportionate contributions to the scientific output of their advisors and departments. We attribute this result to a selection effect as it is relatively more difficult for Chinese students to gain admission into U.S. PhD programs. Our results strengthen the case for liberal student migration policies.
Download paper here: chinese_students_november_2011.pdf