Taxation and the International Mobility of Inventors

We study the effect of top tax rates on “superstar” inventors’ international mobility since 1977, using panel data on inventors from the US and European Patent Offices. We exploit the differential impact of changes in top tax rates on inventors of different qualities. Superstar inventors' location choices are significantly affected by top tax rates. In our preferred specification, the elasticity to the net-of-tax rate of the number of domestic superstar inventors is around 0.03, while that of foreign superstar inventors is around 1. These elasticities are larger for inventors in multinational companies. An inventor is less sensitive to taxes in a country if his company performs a higher share of its research there.

01. October 2016

Authors Ufuk Akcigit Salomé Baslandze Stefanie Stantcheva

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