Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Free movement of inventors: open-border policy and innovation in Switzerland

Cristelli, Gabriele and Lissoni, Francesco (2020): Free movement of inventors: open-border policy and innovation in Switzerland.

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Abstract

We study the innovation effects of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), signed by Switzerland and the EU in 1999. Using geocoded patent data, complemented by matched inventor-immigrant-census records, we identify a large number of cross-border inventors (CBIs), commuters from neighbouring countries working in Swiss R&D labs. We show that, during the AFMP implementation phase, the influx of CBIs increased differentially across regions at different driving distances from the border. That caused a 24% increase in patents, mostly due to large and medium patent holders (as opposed to very large ones) and to inventor teams mixing CBIs and natives. The latter were not displaced and increased their productivity, thanks to complementarity between their knowledge assets and those of CBIs.

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