German Jewish Emigres and U.s. Innovation

Petra Moser (Stanford and NBER)
Alessandra Voena (Stanford)
Fabian Waldinger (Warwick)

Abstract: How important are immigrants as a source of innovation? This paper examines the case of German-Jewish chemists who fled the Nazi regime in Germany. After Hitler took power in 1933, German scientists who had at least one Jewish grandparent were dismissed from German universities, and many of them fled to the United States. We use data on patents and patent citations to assess the effects of émigré chemists on U.S. invention. Specifically, we compare changes in U.S. invention research areas that build on inventions of émigrés with research areas that build on inventions of other German chemists. This analysis indicates that the arrival of German Jewish refugees had a positive and statistically significant effect on U.S. invention.

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