Importing Innovators

Charles Kenny finds evidence that the US has attracted more than its fair share of immigrant innovators:

[Carsten] Fink and his colleague Ernest Miguelez found that in 2010 about 10 percent of inventors worldwide lived outside their country of nationality when making their international patent application. The proportion of international patent applications made from the U.S. by non-nationals was twice as high—around 20 percent. That proportion approximately doubled from 1985 to 2010, and it’s the highest share out of any large economy. It compares with a non-national share of international patent applications of about 2 percent in Japan and closer to 5 percent in Germany and France.

The U.S. is by far the biggest global net beneficiary of innovator migration. Between 2001 and 2010, 14,893 inventors with U.K. nationality applied for international patents while residing in the U.S., for example. And there were three times as many Chinese inventors in the U.S. than British ones. That illustrates the U.S. has done particularly well in attracting innovative talent from the developing world—more than half of the U.S. non-national innovator population comes from countries outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development club of rich countries.

He goes on to worry about “more and more Indian and Chinese graduates of U.S. universities are returning home rather than dealing with the hassle of American immigration procedures.” Reihan isn’t as concerned.