output of 2,200 IMOmedalists from over one hundred countries. We combine these data with newly collected unique survey data of 610 recent IMO participants, which includes information on which universities they applied to, were admitted to and attended. The survey also asks a series of questions where respondents were asked to make choices between hypothetical university offers in different countries—where offers were either funded or unfunded. In line with recent work emphasizing the use of such conjoint survey experiments ( Hainmueller, Hangartner & Yamamoto 2015
This paper studies the impact of U.S. immigration barriers on global knowledge production. We present four key findings. First, among Nobel Prize winners and Fields Medalists, migrants to the U.S. play a central role in the global knowledge network—representing 20-33% of the frontier knowledge producers. Second, using novel survey data and hand-curated life-histories of International Math Olympiad (IMO) medalists, we show that migrants to the U.S. are up to six times more productive than migrants to other countries—even after accounting for talent during one’s teenage years. Third, financing costs are a key factor preventing foreign talent from migrating abroad to pursue their dream careers, particularly for talent from developing countries. Fourth, certain ‘push’ incentives that reduce immigration barriers—by addressing financing constraints for top foreign talent—could increase the global scientific output of future cohorts by 42 percent. We concludeby discussing policy options for the U.S. and the global scientific community.
Front Matter Page Asia and Pacific Department
II. a. IMOMedalists, Fields Medalists and Nobel Laureates
II. b. Survey of IMO Participants
III. Empirical Strategy
III. a. Migrant Productivity Regressions
III. b Counterfactual choices questions and regressions
IV. a. Importance of Migrants to the U.S. in the Global Knowledge Network of Science
IV. b. Are Migrants to the U.S. More Productive than Stayers and Migrants to Other Countries?
IV. c. What Explains the Migration
The advancement of the knowledge frontier is crucial for technological innovation and human progress. Using novel data from the setting of mathematics, this paper establishes two results. First, we document that individuals who demonstrate exceptional talent in their teenage years have an irreplaceable ability to create new ideas over their lifetime, suggesting that talent is a central ingredient in the production of knowledge. Second, such talented individuals born in low- or middle-income countries are systematically less likely to become knowledge producers. Our findings suggest that policies to encourage exceptionally-talented youth to pursue scientific careers—especially those from lower income countries—could accelerate the advancement of the knowledge frontier.
developing countries produced knowledge at the same rate as those from developed countries. We conclude that the knowledge production (from IMO participants) could be 10% higher in terms of publications and 17% higher in terms of cites. Second, we show that strong performers at the IMO have a disproportionate ability to produce frontier mathematical knowledge compared to PhD graduates and even PhD graduates from elite schools. Third, we use manually collected data on the current occupations of IMOmedalists to see what types of careers these individuals are pursing when
-income country (see Chart 2 ). The findings suggested overall that large scientific gains can be achieved by easing barriers to people’s migration to places where their talent can be nurtured.
How IMOmedalists do later in life
Source : Agarwal, Ruchir, and Patrick Gaule. 2020. “Invisible Geniuses: Could the Knowledge Frontier Advance Faster?” American Economic Review: insights 2(4): 409–24.
Note : The chart is based on 89,068 math PhD recipients. On average about 8 percent of IMO participants earn a gold medal, 16 percent earn a silver medal, and 24