Seminar  |  04/17/2019 | 12:00 PM  –  01:30 PM

Brown Bag Seminar: Free Movement of Inventors: Open-Border Policy and Innovation in Switzerland

Gabriele Cristelli (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Munich, Room 313

br />We study the effects of immigration on the inventive performance of Switzerland, which, in between 1999 and 2007, first signed then gradually implemented an open border policy agreement with the European Union. During the transition phase, Switzerland progressively lifted all restrictions concerning foreign commuters from nearby countries, mostly highly skilled workers, whose visas were valid only for selected regions and whose employers were disproportionally located close to its international borders. Based on a rich dataset of patent applications filed at the European Patent Office (EPO) through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and a difference-in-differences estimation strategy, we find that the policy shock changed the migrant-native composition of the inventive workforce, and increased the quantity (albeit only in certain technological sectors) and the quality of Swiss patents. We also highlight an increase in the average size of R&D teams behind each patent application, a potential dynamic effect of skill-gap STEM immigration on domestic firms.

Contact person: Rainer Widmann