The role of immigrant scientists and entrepreneurs in international technology transfer
Author(s)Kerr, William Robert, Ph. D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Economics.
K. Daron Acemoglu, David H. Autor and Ricardo J. Caballero [Caballero's name crossed out and has signature of Peter Temin].
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This thesis characterizes the important role of US ethnic scientists and entrepreneurs for international technology diffusion. Chapter 1 studies the transfer of tacit knowledge regarding new innovations through ethnic scientific communities in the US and their ties to their home countries. US ethnic research communities are quantified by applying an ethnic-name database to individual patent records. International patent citations confirm knowledge diffuses through ethnic networks, and manufacturing output in foreign countries increases with an elasticity of approximately 0.3 to stronger scientific integration with the US frontier. To address reverse-causality concerns, reduced-form specifications exploit exogenous changes in US immigration quotas. Consistent with a model of sector reallocation, output growth in less developed economies is facilitated by employment gains, while more advanced economies experience sharper increases in labor productivity. The findings suggest tacit knowledge channels partly shape the effective technology frontiers of developing economies. Chapter 2 further exploits this heterogeneous technology diffusion through ethnic networks to test the importance of Ricardian technology differences for international trade. Panel regressions find technology growth increases manufacturing exports.(cont.) To establish a causal relationship between technology and trade, instrumental-variables specifications exploit uneven technology diffusion from the US through ethnic scientific networks. The instrumented elasticity of export growth to the exporter's technology development is 0.9 in the preferred specification. Supplemental specifications show this elasticity is robust to controlling for the importer's technology development and to Rybczynski effect due to factor accumulation. Exogenous reforms of US immigration law again test for reverse causality. The findings suggest technology differences are an important determinant of trade patterns. As a supplement to these first two studies, Chapter 3 provides detailed documentation on the ethnic-name strategy employed with US patent records. The growing contribution of Chinese and Indian scientists to US technology formation, especially in high-tech industries, is described. The institutional and geographic dimensions of US ethnic innovation are further characterized. Finally, Chapter 4 concludes with an independent study of income inequality and social norms for compensation differentials and government-led redistribution. This work demonstrates that short-run responses in social norms do not amplify income inequality shocks (e.g., due to skill-biased technical change).
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Economics, 2005.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology