Abstract The impact of international students in the United States
on innovative activity is estimated using a model of idea generation.
Results indicate that the presence of foreign graduate students has
a significant and positive impact on both future patent applications
and future patents awarded to university and non-university institutions.
Our central estimates suggest that a 10% increase in the number of
foreign graduate students would raise patent applications by 4.5%,
university patent grants by 6.8% and non-university patent grants
by 5.0%. Thus, reductions in foreign graduate students from visa
restrictions could significantly reduce US innovative activity. Increases
in skilled immigration also have a positive, but smaller, impact
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