One third of innovation is by immigrants

I have previously posted on the synergistic effect of many Indian IT workers coming to the U.S. with a temporary work visa such as H-1B, then using their American experience to foster the IT industry in India. Now we have a study of total innovation in the United States which finds that global collaboration by immigrant inventors, which causes diffusion of innovative advances, result in 36% of total innovation in the United States by immigrants. Both this and the Indian IT case share the same global foundation for expertise and innovation.

Abstract:  We find the immigrants account for 16% of all US and inventors (patent winners) from 1990 through 2016. Immigrants, however, produce about 23% of total innovation, as we find the average immigrant is substantially more productive than the average US born inventor. Immigrant inventors are more likely to rely on foreign technologies, to collaborate with foreign inventors, and to be cited in foreign markets, thus contributing to the importation and diffusion of ideas across borders. Taking innovation as a whole, 36% can be attributed to immigrants mostly due to their higher degree of global collaboration and diffusion.


—- The contribution of high skilled immigrants to innovation in the United States. Shai Bernstein et al, NBER Working Paper Dec 2022

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