The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 28.02.2012, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

George J. Borjas (Harvard University)


Many economists believe that knowledge production is central to long-term economic growth. Using unique international data on publications, citations, and affiliations of mathematicians, we examine the impact of a large post-1992 influx of Soviet mathematicians on the productivity of their American counterparts. We find a negative productivity effect on those mathematicians whose research overlapped with that of the Soviets. We also document an increased mobility rate (to lower-quality institutions and out of active publishing) and a decreased likelihood of producing “home run” papers. We find that there are significant international differences in the productivity effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that these international differences can be explained by both differences in the size of the émigré flow into the various countries and in how connected each country is to the global market for mathematical publications

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