German-Jewish Emigres and U.S. Invention
59 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2011 Last revised: 17 Jan 2015
Date Written: December 21, 2013
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
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