Free Movement of Inventors: Open-Border Policy and Innovation in Switzerland

Présentation de Francesco Lissoni - GREThA, Université de Bordeaux

Francesco Lissoni
En collaboration avec Gabriele Cristelli - Ecole Polytechnique féderale de Lausanne et CEMI

We study the effects of immigration on the inventive performance of Switzerland, which, in be-tween 1999 and 2007, first signed then gradually implemented an open border policy agreement with the European Union. During the transition phase, Switzerland progressively lifted all restrictions concerning foreign commuters from nearby countries, mostly highly skilled workers, whose visas were valid only for selected regions and whose employers were disproportionally located close to its international borders. Based on a rich dataset of patent applications filed at the European Patent Office (EPO) and a difference-in-differences estimation strategy, we find that the policy shock changed the migrant-native composition of the inventive workforce, did not displace native inventors, and increased the quality, albeit not the quantity, of Swiss patents.

JEL Classification: F22, J61, O31, O33.

Keywords: Immigration, Innovation, Inventors, Patents, Switzerland, Free Movement of Per-sons