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Stefano Breschi, Francesco Lissoni, Ernest Miguelez - “RETURN MIGRANTS' SELF-SELECTION: EVIDENCE FOR INDIAN INVENTOR” - NBER Working Paper No. 24809 - July 2018

Based on an original dataset linking patent data and biographical information for a large sample of US immigrant inventors with Indian names and surnames, specialized in ICT technologies, we investigate the rate and determinants of return migration. For each individual in the dataset, we both estimate the year of entry in the United States, the likely entry channel (work or education), and the permanence spell up to either the return to India or right truncation. By means of survival analysis, we then provide exploratory estimates of the probability of return migration as a function of the conditions at migration (age, education, patenting record, migration motives, and migration cohort) as well as of some activities undertaken while abroad (education and patenting). We find both evidence of negative self-selection with respect to educational achievements in the US and of positive self-selection with respect to patenting propensity. Based on the analysis of time-dependence of the return hazard ratios, return work migrants appear to be negatively self-selected with respect to unobservable skills acquired abroad, while evidence for education migrants is less conclusive.

Ernest Miguelez - “INVENTOR DIASPORAS AND THE INTERNATIONALIZATION OF TECHNOLOGY” - The World Bank Economic Review, Volume 32, Issue 1, 1 February 2018, Pages 41–63

This paper documents the influence of diaspora networks of highly-skilled individuals—that is, inventors—on international technological collaborations. Using gravity models, it studies the determinants of the internationalization of inventive activity between a group of industrialized countries and a sample of developing and emerging economies. The paper examines the influence exerted by skilled diasporas in fostering cross-country co-inventorship as well as R&D offshoring. The study finds a strong and robust relationship between inventor diasporas and different forms of international co-patenting. However, the effect decreases with the level of formality of the interactions. Interestingly, some of the most successful diasporas recently documented—namely, Chinese and Indian ones—do not govern the results.

Stefano Breschi, Francesco Lissoni, Ernest Miguelez - “FOREIGN-ORIGIN INVENTORS IN THE USA: TESTING FOR DIASPORA AND BRAIN GAIN EFFECTS” - Journal of Economic Geography, Volume 17, Issue 5, 1 September 2017, Pages 1009–1038

We assess the role of ethnic ties in the diffusion of technical knowledge using a database of patents filed by US-resident inventors of foreign origin, identified by name analysis. We consider 10 leading source countries, both Asian and European, of highly skilled migration to the USA and test whether foreign inventors’ patents are disproportionately cited by (i) co-ethnic migrants (‘diaspora’ effect), and (ii) inventors residing in their country of origin (‘brain gain’ effect). We find evidence of the diaspora effect for the Asian but not the European countries, with the exception of Russia. A diaspora effect does not necessarily translate into a brain gain effect, most notably for India where no such effect is detected. Neither does a brain gain effect occur solely in conjunction with a diaspora effect. Overall, diaspora and brain gain effects carry less weight than other channels of knowledge transmission, most notably co-invention networks and multinational companies.