speaker Petra Moser, New York University School of Business time Friday, July 12, 13:30-15:00
place Room 217, Guanghua Building 2


Topic:Immigration, Science, and Invention, Evidence from the Quota Acts

Speaker:Petra Moser, New York University School of Business

Time:Friday, July 12, 13:30-15:00

Location:Room 217, Guanghua Building 2


The United States implemented its first ethnicity-based immigration rules in 1921 and 1924. The goal of these national origins quotas was to keep out low-skilled immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe (ESE) and preserve the “Nordic” character of America’s population. Using rich biographical data on more than 80,000 American scientists, we investigate whether such nationality-based immigration rules may inadvertently discourage the arrival of high-skilled immigrant scientists. We find that the quotas led to a substantial decline in the immigration of scientists, even though they had targeted unskilled workers. To examine how this change affected American science and invention, we develop an improved linkage between scientists and their patents. Using k-means clustering to identify the fields in which ESE-born immigrant scientists were active before the quotas, we show that the quotas led to a large and permanent decline in American invention. After 1924, American scientists produced around 60 percent fewer additional patents in the pre-quota fields of ESE scientists compared with other fields. This change persisted through World War II and throughout the 1960s.

The link of the paper(Still in the update) is:


Petra Moser joined New York University School of Business as an Associate Professor of Economics in July 2015.

Professor Moser’s research combines methods from empirical microeconomics and economic history to examine the determinants of creativity and innovation. She uses historical variation in patent and copyright laws to examine the effects of intellectual property on science, technological innovation and artistic creativity. Her research also investigates the impact of immigrants on US innovation and examines the biological underpinnings of individual-level differences in entrepreneurship and creativity. She has received an NSF CAREER grant and a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS).

Prior to joining NYU Stern, Professor Moser taught at Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She was an undergraduate student at the University of Tübingen in Germany and a Fulbright Student at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received her M.A. in International Relations from Yale University and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

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