Does Scientist Immigration Harm Us Science? An Examination of Spillovers

39 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2018 Last revised: 1 Jul 2023

See all articles by Ajay K. Agrawal

Ajay K. Agrawal

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

John McHale

Queen's University - Smith School of Business

Alexander Oettl

Georgia Institute of Technology - Strategic Management Area

Date Written: April 2018

Abstract

The recruitment of foreign scientists enhances US science through an expanded workforce but could also cause harm by displacing better connected domestic scientists, thereby reducing localized knowledge spillovers. We develop a model in which a sufficient condition for the absence of overall harm is that immigrant scientists generate at least the same level of localized spillovers as the domestic scientists they displace. To test this condition, we conduct an experiment in which each immigrant hypothetically displaces an appropriately matched domestic scientist. Overall, we do not find evidence that immigrant scientists harm US science by crowding out better-connected domestic scientists.

Suggested Citation

Agrawal, Ajay K. and McHale, John and Oettl, Alexander, Does Scientist Immigration Harm Us Science? An Examination of Spillovers (April 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24519, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3163285

Ajay K. Agrawal (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

John McHale

Queen's University - Smith School of Business ( email )

Smith School of Business - Queen's University
143 Union Street
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6
Canada

Alexander Oettl

Georgia Institute of Technology - Strategic Management Area ( email )

800 West Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States

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