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The Contribution of International Graduate Students to US Innovation

Authors

  • Gnanaraj Chellaraj,

    Corresponding author
    1. Consultant, Development Economic Research Group, The World Bank, Washington DC
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  • Keith E. Maskus,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Economics, University of Colorado at Boulder
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  • Aaditya Mattoo

    Corresponding author
    1. Consultant, Development Economic Research Group, The World Bank, Washington DC
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    • This paper is part of the World Bank's research program on trade in services, which is supported in part by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development. Comments and suggestions from the Singapore Economist Service Team, particularly Shandre Thangavelu, and technical assistance from Randip Rathindran and Nam Trung Hoang, are gratefully acknowledged. We are grateful to Ronald Ehrenberg, Robert McNown, Mushfiq Mobarak, Paula Stephan, and John Voss, for comments. The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Bank.


Chellaraj: Consultant, Development Economic Research Group, The World Bank, 1818 H Street NW, Washington DC 20433. E-mail: gchraj@yahoo.com. Maskus: Department of Economics, University of Colorado at Boulder, CO 80309-0256. E-mail: maskus@colorado.edu. Mattoo: Development Economic Research Group, The World Bank, 1818 H Street NW, Washington DC 20433. E-mail: amattoo@worldbank.org.

Abstract

The impact of international students in the United States on innovative activity is estimated using a model of idea generation. Results indicate that the presence of foreign graduate students has a significant and positive impact on both future patent applications and future patents awarded to university and non-university institutions. Our central estimates suggest that a 10% increase in the number of foreign graduate students would raise patent applications by 4.5%, university patent grants by 6.8% and non-university patent grants by 5.0%. Thus, reductions in foreign graduate students from visa restrictions could significantly reduce US innovative activity. Increases in skilled immigration also have a positive, but smaller, impact on patenting.

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