S. Barabuffi, V. Costantini, V. Leone Sciabolazza, E. Paglialunga (2021), Knowledge spillovers through skilled-workers migration network: evidence from OECD countries.

In this paper we investigate the role of international high-skilled migration in diffusing innovation from origin to destination countries by assessing their impact on the production of knowledge (patents) in host countries. A problem with our analysis is that a better innovation performance in one country can be mechanically correlated with a higher presence of high-skilled immigrants, but not necessarily be determined by it. For this reason, we propose a new identification strategy based on a control function approach to account for migrants’ self-selection into the migration network and sort out endogeneity concerns from our estimates. The model is tested on a panel database of 20 OECD countries from 1987 to 2016. Our results show that high-skilled migration magnifies the effect of internal knowledge in improving national innovation performances. On the contrary, middle or low-skilled migration flows have no statistically significant effect on innovation production. Furthermore, knowledge spillovers are stronger if origin and destination countries assign similar share of their public R\&D budget across the same technological and socio-economic goals. Finally, the role of high-skilled migrants is heterogeneous across countries and their contribution is most valuable when host countries are still on a learning path.