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German-Jewish Emigres and U.S. Invention

59 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2011 Last revised: 17 Jan 2015

Petra Moser

Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alessandra Voena

University of Chicago

Fabian Waldinger

University of Warwick - Department of Economics

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Date Written: December 21, 2013

Abstract

Historical accounts suggest that the arrival of German Jewish émigrés who fled the Nazi regime revolutionized U.S. science and innovation. This paper presents the first systematic analysis of the émigrés’ effects on U.S. innovation. Difference-in-differences analyses compare changes in patenting by U.S. inventors in chemistry for research fields of German émigrés to the United States with fields of other German chemists. This test suggests that U.S. invention increased by 31 percent after 1933 in fields of émigrés. Regressions that use the pre-1933 fields of dismissed German chemists as an instrument for fields of émigrés indicate that OLS may underestimate effects on U.S. innovation. Evidence from a new data set on the patent histories of more than 500,000 U.S. inventors indicates that the émigrés arrival increased U.S. innovation by attracting a new group of U.S. researchers to their fields, rather than by increasing the productivity of incumbent U.S. inventors.

Keywords: innovation, invention, science, human capital, immigration, Jewish history

JEL Classification: O15, O31, J61, N12

Suggested Citation

Moser, Petra and Voena, Alessandra and Waldinger, Fabian, German-Jewish Emigres and U.S. Invention (December 21, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1910247 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1910247

Petra Moser (Contact Author)

Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

269 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10003
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alessandra Voena

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Fabian Waldinger

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

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