Birthplace diversity and economic growth: evidence from the US states in the Post-World War II period

Frédéric Docquier, Riccardo Turati, Jérôme Valette, Chrysovalantis Vasilakis

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This paper empirically investigates the impact of birthplace diversity on economic growth. We use panel data on US states over the 1960–2010 period. This rich data set allows us to better deal with endogeneity issues and to conduct a large set of robustness checks. Our results suggest that diversity among college-educated immigrants positively affects economic growth. We provide converging evidence pointing at the existence of skill complementarities between workers trained in different countries. These synergies result in better labor market outcomes for native workers and in higher productivity in the R&D sector. The gains from diversity are maximized when immigrants originate from economically or culturally distant countries (but not both), and when they acquired part of their secondary education abroad and their college education in the USA. Overall, a 10% increase in high-skilled diversity raises GDP per capita by about 6%. On the contrary, low-skilled diversity has insignificant effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321–354
JournalJournal of Economic Geography
Issue number2
Early online date4 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Geographic Labor Mobility
  • immigrant workers
  • International migration

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