Skilled Immigration and Innovation: Evidence from Enrollment Fluctuations in U.S. Doctoral Programs

48 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2010

See all articles by Keith E. Maskus

Keith E. Maskus

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

Yale School of Management; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Eric Stuen

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 2010

Abstract

We study the contribution of foreign science and engineering talent to the creation of new knowledge in the U.S. economy using panel data on 2300 science and engineering (S&E) departments at 100 large American universities from 1973 to 1998. We use macroeconomic shocks and policy changes in source countries that differentially affect enrollments across fields and universities to isolate exogenous variation in the supply of students at specific departments. Both foreign and domestic graduate students are central inputs into knowledge creation, and the marginal foreign student contributes more to the production of scientific publications and citations. A 10% decrease in the foreign share of doctoral students lowers S&E research output at U.S. universities by 5-6%. A theoretical model of university admissions and scholarships helps us infer the productivity effects of student quality, and econometric results indicate that any visa restrictions limiting entry of high-quality foreign students is most costly for U.S. innovation. Increased diversity appears to be the primary mechanism by which foreign students improve research outcomes. The impact of more restrictive immigration policies depends on how they affect the quality margin and diversity of incoming foreigners.

Keywords: foreign graduate students, high-skilled immigration, immigration, innovation, visa policy

JEL Classification: 015, 031, P33

Suggested Citation

Maskus, Keith E. and Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq and Stuen, Eric, Skilled Immigration and Innovation: Evidence from Enrollment Fluctuations in U.S. Doctoral Programs (February 2010). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP7709. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1559665

Keith E. Maskus (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics ( email )

Campus Box 256
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
303-492-7588 (Phone)
303-492-8960 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-5787 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://mba.yale.edu/faculty/profiles/mobarak.shtml

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

Eric Stuen

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics ( email )

Campus Box 256
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

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