New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Peter Nijkamp, Jacques Poot and Mediha Sahin
Chapter 8: Immigration and innovation in European regions
The more than doubling of the number of foreign-born residents of developed countries since 1980 has triggered a high level of research activity regarding the economic consequences of immigration. Yet many issues remain of concern to researchers, politicians and the general public. Much of the literature provides rather conclusive evidence that the shortrun economic impact of an influx of foreigners on the host population is either positive (for example, an increase in demand; an increase in wages of those whose skills complement those of the arrivals; lower prices; a greater variety of goods and services) or only mildly negative (for example, a slight decrease of wages of those who are close substitutes for the new arrivals; an increase in the price of rental accommodation; a trade balance deterioration). Far less is known about the long-run economic impact. Yet the preference of many host countries to recruit highly-skilled workers (as revealed by their selection processes) is grounded in the belief that such workers will integrate more easily, reduce the amount of public funding that is required for education and training, and boost long-run economic growth. In this chapter we focus on a specific driver of economic growth – namely, innovation – and investigate empirically whether there is a positive impact of immigration on innovation. Migrants can contribute to innovation in various ways.
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