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Highly skilled migrants and technological diversification in the US and Europe

Federico Caviggioli, Paul Jensen and Giuseppe Scellato

Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 2020, vol. 154, issue C

Abstract: We have investigated the impact of highly skilled migrants on the evolution of the technological portfolios of European and US sub-regional geographical areas. The specific contribution of the international mobility of inventors on the technological diversification of the innovation output, a driver of regional economic growth and of the emergence of new industries, has been neglected in previous literature. Migrant inventors have been identified by comparing their nationalities with the residence addresses reported in the patent documents. The diversification of the local technological portfolio has been measured as the number of fields of specialization, which were identified from a comparison with the aggregate portfolio of all the analyzed geographical areas. The measure has been calculated using the Hidalgo–Hausman method of reflections on patent data. The applied econometric models show a negative relationship between migration and diversification of technological specializations, thereby supporting the presence of a specialty matching mechanism associated with migration. We have also computed indicators of the relative rarity of a technological field across regions. Rarity results to be positively correlated with the local incidence of migrant inventors, thus suggesting that destination regions are more likely to enter specialization fields of higher complexity.

Keywords: International mobility; Technological diversification; Highly skilled migrants; Inventors; Regional studies (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2020.119951

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