Migration and Invention in the Age of Mass Migration

SITE (Science, Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship)

Speaker:Sergio Petralia, LSE
Date: Tuesday 8 December 2020
Time: 16:00
Location: Microsoft Teams link available from

Further details

Abstract More than 30 million people migrated to the US between the 1850s and 1920s and in order of thousands became inventors and patentees. Drawing on a novel dataset of immigrant inventors in the US, we assess the city-level impact of immigrants' patenting and their contribution to the technological specialization of the receiving US regions between 1870 and 1940. Our results show that native inventors benefited from the inventive activity of immigrants. We find that immigrant inventors imported knowledge from their home country, which generated positive local spillovers. In addition, we show that the knowledge transferred by immigrants gave rise to new and previously not existing technological fields in the US regions where immigrants moved to. Our findings are robust to several checks and the implementation of an instrumental variable strategy.