September 9, 2008

THE APPALLING THING IS...:

The Often-Overlooked Truth About Immigration (Matthew Bandyk, 9/09/08, US NEWS: Risky Business)

A new paper from the NBER, written by Jennifer Hunt of McGill and Marjolaine Gauthier-Loiselle of Princeton, takes a comprehensive look at how immigrants are disproportionately greater contributors to technological innovation than native-born Americans. Here's a summary of the results:

These data imply that a one percentage point rise in the share of immigrant college graduates in the population increases patents per capita by 6%. This could be an overestimate of immigration's benefit if immigrant inventors crowd out native inventors, or an underestimate if immigrants have positive spill-overs on inventors. Using a 1950-2000 state panel, we show that natives are not crowded out by immigrants, and that immigrants do have positive spill-overs, resulting in an increase in patents per capita of about 15% in response to a one percentage point increase in immigrant college graduates.

It's true that most of the immigrants contributing so much to innovation are coming from the worlds of science and engineering, not business. But someone has to commercialize a patented technology, so the more patents coming out of the United States, the better for American entrepreneurs. It's funny (and somewhat disturbing) that many people in the United States see immigration as an issue about foreign competitors taking jobs from Americans. This study suggests that's backward. If we want to keep job-creating innovation in the United States, we should let in as many foreigners as we can.


...nativists would rather an economy in the tank and a more racially closed society.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 9, 2008 2:30 PM
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