This paper aims to examine whether emigration of high-skilled labor creates a positive effect in the home country by generating multi-country joint patent relationships between home and destination country-pairs.
A panel of data that uniquely captures the country of origin of patent applicants is used to assess if and how high-skilled emigration contributes to the prevalence of multi-country joint patents in a country. The analysis is conducted both in aggregate and across sub-samples based on the per capita income level of the home country. Finally, the role of absorptive capacity as a control variable is robustly considered.
Results suggest that emigration of high-skilled labor positively impacts the prevalence of multi-country joint patent ownership when emigration originates from middle- and high-income countries. Support for such “brain gain” via knowledge sharing in innovation is absent when high-skilled labor emigrates from low-income countries.
The analysis highlights a specific avenue by which the home country benefits from high-skilled emigration. It also provides comparative analysis across home countries of different income levels, which can provide insight into the external validity of papers using high-income country samples of innovative performance when assessing knowledge spillovers.
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