Front Matter Page Asia and Pacific Department
II. a. IMO Medalists, Fields Medalists and Nobel Laureates
II. b. Survey of IMOParticipants
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.
build an original database covering the education history and publications of the population of IMOparticipants participating across 20 years of the competition (1981-2000; n=4,710).
We first document a salient positive correlation between the points scored at the IMO and subsequent mathematics knowledge production. Even in this group of teenagers in the extreme right tail of the talent distribution, small differences in talent are associated with sizeable differences in long-term achievements. Each additional point scored on the IMO (out of a total possible score
output of 2,200 IMO medalists from over one hundred countries. We combine these data with newly collected unique survey data of 610 recent IMOparticipants, 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.
to examine where frontier knowledge comes from, thanks to the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), a prominent worldwide math competition for talented high school students. This competition for people younger than 20 has taken place annually since 1959 and includes more than 100 countries. We hand-collected data on careers of all IMOparticipants competing between 1981 and 2000 (that is, 4,710 participants, of which 2,272 received a medal). Our research found a strong correlation between success in the IMO and many indicators of scientific productivity