Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Mobility of Highly Skilled Individuals and Local Innovation Activity

Drivas, Kyriakos and Economidou, Claire and Karamanis, Dimitris and Sanders, Mark (2018): Mobility of Highly Skilled Individuals and Local Innovation Activity.

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Abstract

This paper studies the drivers of highly skilled migrants across space as well as their impact on local innovation activity. We focus on patent inventors, a specific typology of skilled and innovative individuals who are deeply involved in the production of innovation and are important vehicle of knowledge circulation. Employing patent data to track their moves, we use a gravity model to examine whether geographic, technological and cultural proximities between countries and country level factors and policies shape the flows of these talented individuals. As a comparison, in the same framework, we also analyze the flows of non-inventor migrants. Our evidence shows that proximity matters for migration. Gravity emerges everywhere; in the mobility of inventor and non-inventor migrant workers; the former, however, are less geographically restricted. Similarity in technological production structure between countries is the main driver of inventor moves - especially for inventors from the most innovative countries, whereas cultural proximity matters more for non-inventor migrants. Attractive country features are the quality of institutions and job opportunities at the destination as well as trade linkages between origin and destination country. Finally, the knowledge and skills that move with the inventors have an important positive impact on local innovation production.

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