Skilled Migrants’ Contribution to Innovation
Research Question:

What is the contribution of skilled migrants to the innovation capacity of the host country?

The current refugee crisis has become a focus of the media, the public and policymakers alike. The academic community is also paying increased attention to migration-related issues. The economis literature has presented as evidence that immigration and global labour mobility have considerable effect on dimensions such as labour markets, innovation, productivity spillovers, and public finance.

The current political debate is characterised by the coexistence of rigid opposing views of those who consider immigration as a burden for the host economy and those who instead regard immigration as an opportunity. This, unfortunately, overshadows the less controversial, but beneficial, effect of skilled migration. Skilled migration offers an opportunity for boosting innovation, which is a key driver of economic growth. Policymakers around the world are aware of this opportunity and have adopted policies to attract skilled migrants. Despite the emphasis placed on attracting and retaining high-skilled immigrants, academic research on the effect of skilled immigrants on their host country’s economy is relatively sparse.

The overall objective of this project is to advance knowledge-based evidence on skilled migrants and their contribution to the host country’s innovative capacity. The project will provide a global view – in contrast to existing studies, which mainly focus on the United States. It will concentrate on a specific category of skilled workers that is directly relevant for innovation, namely inventors. The research findings will have a wider application in contributing to the policy dialogue on migration and innovation.


Project Members

Name Role Department/Institute Institution
Gaétan de Rassenfosse Coordinator College of Management of Technology Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
Orion Penner Co-Coordinator College of Management of Technology Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
Gabriele Pellegrino Principal Member College of Management of Technology Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
Carsten Fink Associated Member Economic Studies, Statistics and Analysis Division WIPO World Intellectual Property Organisation
Paul H. Jensen Associated Member Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research University of Melbourne
Çaglar Ozden Associated Member Development Research Group WORLD BANK GROUP
Etienne Piguet Associated Member Institute of Geography Université de Neuchâtel
Julio Raffo Associated Member Economics and Statistics Division WIPO World Intellectual Property Organisation