International migration and US innovation

Insights from the US experience

Authored by: William R. Kerr

Routledge Handbook of Immigration and Refugee Studies

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138794313
eBook ISBN: 9781315759302
Adobe ISBN: 9781317638773


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‘Innovation’ is a very hot word these days – in business, in policy circles and in academia. For individual companies, innovation is described as central for competitive success. At the level of society, innovation is an important input to prosperity and the key long-run driver of economic growth. In the United States, immigrants are often linked to innovation and its related outcomes (e.g. patenting, entrepreneurship). Thus, it is not surprising that many central proponents of migration focus on the potential innovation benefits that US firms and the country as a whole could derive by attracting more talent – it appears to be the ultimate free lunch. Yet, there are others who advocate against immigration, even among high-skilled workers, believing that it drives down wage rates of Americans and does not contribute to aggregate innovation.

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