Ernest Migulelez (GREThA – Université de Bordeaux)
18 February 2020 @ 13:00
Abstract: United Nations summits on sustainable development such as COP 21 in Paris and COP 25 in Madrid reflect the high level of concern with anthropogenic climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions, waste accumulation, soil degradation and pollution, to name but a few. Technological change aimed at decreasing the pressure on the environment as well as improving its quality, is one of the pillars of current strategies to deal with these concerns. The present paper focuses on green technological change, a specific form of environmental innovation (EI) consisting of standards and artefacts aimed at mitigating or reversing the negative effects of human action on the environment. The literature emphasizes that the body of know-how that is relevant to developing EI exhibits higher levels of complexity and, therefore, a more frequent recombination of diverse competences relative to non-green technology. The aim of the present paper is to study the contribution of high-skilled immigrants to the generation and growth of EI in US metropolitan statistical areas. We identify EI using patent families from PATSTAT, associated to the 36 environmental technologies identified by the OECD Env-Tech classification and subsequently associate these to US MSAs using inventor addresses. Our empirical strategy consists in regressing the generation and growth of EI in MSAs by decades on the diversity and stock of skilled immigrants in these MSAs at the beginning of the decade or as an average of the decade immediately before, for the 36 environmental technologies identified. Our analysis is run in four decades (1980-89, 1990-99, 2000-09, 2010-09). We also look at diversification into green technologies by regressing RTA in green patents on our measures of diversity and immigrant presence in US MSAs. We therefore aim to understand migrants’ influence not only on the generation of EI, but also in the transitioning of regional economies towards producing these technologies. In this regard, we also provide micro-evidence looking at the subsample of PCT patents, for which we can collect information on the nationality of inventors (Miguelez and Fink, 2013). We assess the influence of team diversity and immigrant presence in teams on the likelihood to patent an EI for the first time in a given MSA.