Immigration and the Rise of American Ingenuity

10 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2017 Last revised: 19 May 2017

See all articles by Ufuk Akcigit

Ufuk Akcigit

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)

John Grigsby

University of Chicago

Tom Nicholas

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Date Written: February 2017

Abstract

This paper builds on the analysis in Akcigit et al. (2017) by using US patent and Census data to examine macro and micro-level aspects of the relationship between immigration and innovation. We construct a measure of foreign born expertise and show that technology areas where immigrant inventors were prevalent between 1880 and 1940 experienced more patenting and citations between 1940 and 2000. We also show that immigrant inventors were more productive during their life cycle than native born inventors, although they received significantly lower levels of labor income than their native born counterparts. Overall, the contribution of foreign born inventors to US innovation was substantial, but we also find evidence of an immigrant inventor wage-gap that cannot be explained by differentials in productivity.

Suggested Citation

Akcigit, Ufuk and Grigsby, John and Nicholas, Tom, Immigration and the Rise of American Ingenuity (February 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23137. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2912114

Ufuk Akcigit (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 E. 59th St
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ufukakcigit.com

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

John Grigsby

University of Chicago ( email )

Tom Nicholas

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

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