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Labor markets in transition: science and migration after the collapse of the Soviet Union


Ganguli, Ina (2011). Labor markets in transition: science and migration after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Master's thesis / Doctoral dissertation.


In this dissertation, I draw upon the dissolution of the USSR to shed light on the behavior of workers and the human capital they embody. In the first essay, I ask how research grants impact scientific output and scientists' decisions in a setting with a large scientific labor force but limited funding opportunities. Using information from the earliest large-scale grant program for Soviet scientists, I employ a regression discontinuity design to obtain causal estimates of the impact of grants. I construct a unique panel dataset of scientists and their publications and show that the grants more than doubled researcher publications and induced scientists to remain in the science sector. In the second essay, I study the unprecedented exodus westward of scientists after the end of the USSR and examine both the selection of emigrants and the impact of emigration on their subsequent productivity. Using a unique panel dataset of Russian scientists and a difference-in-differences approach, I show that scientists who emigrated after the end of the USSR were more productive after they left Russia compared to scientists who did not emigrate. Exploiting the increase in international collaboration among scientists who did not emigrate, I also show that international collaboration is associated with an increase in researcher productivity, but less than for emigration. In the third essay, I analyze immigrant selection before and after the USSR within a Roy Model framework. With micro-level data from Russia, Ukraine, and Bulgaria, along with data for immigrants in the United States, Spain, and Greece, I compare immigrants' predicted wages in the source country with the predicted wages of their native counterparts. I also re-weight the source country wage distributions by the.characteristics of immigrants in host countries. These approaches allow me to see what part of the source country distribution immigrants would fall in had they not emigrated. I find evidence of positive selection for the US, and negative selection for Greece and Spain after the fall of the Soviet Union, while during communism, selection among Soviet men in the US was intermediate and selection among women was positive.

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Ganguli, Ina