Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Papers in Innovation Studies,
Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy

No 2016/11: The patenting performance of second-generation immigrants in Sweden: differentiated by parents’ region of origin

Yannu Zheng ()
Additional contact information
Yannu Zheng: CIRCLE, Lund University, Postal: CIRCLE, Lund University, PO Box 117, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: Children of immigrants inherit human capital attainment from their parents that impact on their innovative performance. Some of this stem from their migrant parents’ positive and negative selection traits, part from their physical or cognitive proximity of country of origin to the host society. In this paper, I examine how second-generation immigrants (with at least one foreign-born parent), taking into consideration their parents’ region of origin, perform in inventive activity compared with native Swedes (with two native-born parents) and how this is related to their parents’ background. The study is based on a new Swedish database of inventors, which matched with the entire population between 1985 and 2007. The results show that, in terms of probability of becoming an inventor and number of forward citations to their patents, second-generation immigrants with non-Nordic European backgrounds perform better than native Swedes. Their better performance is related to the positive selection of their foreign-born parents and a certain distance of proximity to Sweden. The study indicates that there is a trade-off effect between the selection and proximity of foreign-born parents on second-generation immigrants’ patenting performance, but that differs between groups. For second-generation immigrants with other Nordic backgrounds, their less well performance is mainly attributed to their lower education level, which is further related to their less positively selected parents. However, for second-generation immigrants with one native-born parent and one parent from another non-European country, their large distance of proximity to Sweden seems to impede their performance.

Keywords: Native Swedes; Foreign-born; Innovation; Human capital; Selection

JEL-codes: J15; J24; N30; O31

82 pages, April 8, 2016

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