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German Jewish Emigres and US Invention

Petra Moser, Alessandra Voena and Fabian Waldinger

Munich Reprints in Economics from University of Munich, Department of Economics

Abstract: Historical accounts suggest that Jewish emigres from Nazi Germany revolutionized US science. To analyze the emigres' effects on chemical innovation in the United States, we compare changes in patenting by US inventors in research fields of emigres with fields of other German chemists. Patenting by US inventors increased by 31 percent in emigre fields. Regressions which instrument for emigre fields with pre-1933 fields of dismissed German chemists confirm a substantial increase in US invention. Inventor-level data indicate that emigres encouraged innovation by attracting new researchers to their fields, rather than by increasing the productivity of incumbent inventors.

Date: 2014
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Published in American Economic Review 10 104(2014): pp. 3222-3255

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