Advertisement

Journal of Geographical Systems

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 557–594 | Cite as

Are foreign-born researchers more innovative? Self-selection and the production of knowledge among PhD recipients in the USA

  • Rodrigo Perez-SilvaEmail author
  • Mark D. Partridge
  • William E. Foster
Original Article

Abstract

When analyzing knowledge production, the evidence suggests that within the USA, foreign-born researchers exhibit more productivity than their domestic counterparts. Previous literature indicates that productivity differences can be explained by higher academic ability and the selection of more research-oriented fields among foreign-born. In this study, we use individual data from the restricted-access version of the Survey of Doctoral Recipients between 1995 and 2003 to extend this notion and compare knowledge production, in terms of papers presented, articles published, patent applications, and patents granted, of foreign-born and domestic PhD recipients. Our results strongly support the notion that foreign-born researchers, and especially naturalized US citizens, outperform their domestic counterparts in all four of our measures of knowledge production. We show that while aspects associated with academic training, quality of the school, occupation mismatch, and fields of study, among others, play a role in productivity differentials, they only account for a small proportion of the variability. We develop a theoretical a model to show that non-directly observable aspects associated with non-academic ability of foreign-born and a better match between the student and the PhD program, associated with differing opportunity costs of attending the program, may explain the results. Different specifications and robustness checks are conducted to provide support to our theory.

Keywords

Innovation Knowledge production Self-selection Occupation mismatch PhD recipients 

JEL Classification

D83 J24 J61 

References

  1. Borjas G, Doran K (2015) Which peers matter? The relative impact of collaborators, colleagues, and competitors. Rev Econ Stat 97(5):1104–1117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chevalier A, Harmon C, O’Sullivan V, Walker I (2013) The impact of parental income and education on the schooling of their children. IZA J Labor Econ 2(8):1–22Google Scholar
  3. De la Mata T, Llano C (2013) Social networks and trade of services: modeling interregional flows with spatial and network autocorrelation effects. J Geogr Syst 15(3):319–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dustmann C (1999) Temporary migration, human capital, and language fluency of migrants. Scand J Econ 101(2):297–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gibson J, McKenzie D (2011) The microeconomic determinants of emigration and return migration of the best and brightest: evidence from the Pacific. J Dev Econ 95(1):18–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Greene W (2008) Functional forms for the negative binomial model for count data. Econ Lett 99(3):585–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Grogger J, Hanson G (2013) The scale and selectivity of foreign-born PhD recipients in the US. Am Econ Rev Pap Proc 103(3):189–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hunt J (2011) Which immigrants are most innovative and entrepreneurial? Distinctions by entry visa. J Labor Econ 29(3):417–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hunt J, Gauthier-Loiselle M (2010) How much does immigration boost innovation? Am Econ J Macroecon 2(2):31–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hunter RS, Oswald AJ, Charlton BG (2009) The elite brain drain. Econ J 119(538):F231–F251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jaffe AB, Trajtenberg M, Henderson R (1993) Geographic localization of knowledge spillovers as evidenced by patent citations. Q J Econ 108(3):577–598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kerr WR, Lincoln WF (2010) The supply side of innovation: H-1B Visa reforms and US ethnic invention. J Labor Econ 28(3):473–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kang D, Dall’erba S (2016) Exploring the spatially varying innovation capacity of the US counties in the framework of Griliches’ knowledge production function: a mixed GWR approach. J Geogr Syst 18(2):125–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. LeSage JP, Sheng Y (2014) A spatial econometric panel data examination of endogenous versus exogenous interaction in Chinese province-level patenting. J Geogr Syst 16(3):233–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lin Z, Pearce R, Wang W (2009) Imported talents: demographic characteristics, achievement and job satisfaction of foreign born full time faculty in four-year American colleges. High Educ 57(6):703–721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Longhi S, Nijkamp P, Poot J (2010) Joint impacts of immigration on wages and employment: review and meta-analysis. J Geogr Syst 12(4):355–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Parent O (2012) A space-time analysis of knowledge production. J Geogr Syst 14(1):49–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Peri G, Shih KY, Sparber C (2015) STEM workers, H-1B visas, and productivity in US cities. J Labor Econ 33(3):S225–S255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Rauch JE (1993) Productivity gains from geographic concentration of human capital: evidence from the cities. J Urb Econ 34(3):380–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sand BM (2013) A re-examination of the social returns to education: evidence from US cities. Labour Econ 24(C):97–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Winters JV (2014a) Foreign and native-born STEM graduates and innovation intensity in the United States. IZA Discussion Paper No. 8575Google Scholar
  22. Winters JV (2014b) STEM graduates, human capital externalities, and wages in the US. Reg Sci Urb Econ 48(C):190–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wutchy S, Jones BF, Uzzi B (2007) The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science 316(5827):1036–1039CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Economics and Social Policy, Faculty of HumanitiesUniversidad MayorSantiagoChile
  2. 2.The Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Jinan UniversityGuangzhouChina
  4. 4.Urban Studies and Regional ScienceGran Sasso Science InstituteL’AquilaItaly
  5. 5.Department of Agricultural EconomicsPontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Center for Socioeconomic Impact of Environmental Policies, CESIEPSantiagoChile

Personalised recommendations