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HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy

Abstract

It has been difficult to open up the black box of knowledge production. We use unique international data on the publications, citations, and affiliations of mathematicians to examine the impact of a large, post-1992 influx of Soviet mathematicians on the productivity of their U.S. counterparts. We find a negative productivity effect on those mathematicians whose research overlapped with that of the Soviets. We also document an increased mobility rate (to lower quality institutions and out of active publishing) and a reduced likelihood of producing “home run” papers. Although the total product of the preexisting American mathematicians shrank, the Soviet contribution to American mathematics filled in the gap. However, there is no evidence that the Soviets greatly increased the size of the “mathematics pie.” Finally, we find that there are significant international differences in the productivity effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and these international differences can be explained by both differences in the size of the émigré flow into the various countries and in how connected each country is to the global market for mathematical publications.

Citation

Borjas, George, and Kirk B. Doran. "The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians." Quarterly Journal of Economics 127.3 (August 2012): 1143-1203.