Immigrant inventors and local income taxes: evidence from Swiss municipalities
Journal of Public Economics, Issue 219 (2023): 104822

This paper studies the relationship between local personal income tax rates and the attractiveness of municipalities as residential locations for immigrant inventors in Switzerland. Exploiting sharp differences in top income tax rates across state borders, I find an elasticity of the probability that an inventor takes residence in a municipality with respect to the top net-of-tax rate of around 3.2. Additional evidence suggests that inventors’ residential location choices are consequential for the localization of entrepreneurial activity and local knowledge spillovers.

Working Papers

Allegations of Sexual Misconduct, Accused Scientists, and Their Research (with Marina Chugunova and Michael Rose)
Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition Research Paper No. 22-18
Reject & Resubmit at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

We study academic consequences of non-academic misconduct for accused researchers at US universities. Focusing on allegations of sexual misconduct, we find detrimental effects on scientific impact, productivity and career. Other researchers are less likely to cite the perpetrator’s prior work after allegations surface. The effect is absent in male-dominated fields and weakens with distance in the co-authorship network, indicating that researchers learn about allegations via their peers. Although we find that alleged perpetrators tend to remain active researchers, they are less likely to be affiliated with a university and publish fewer articles following the incident.

The Behavioral Additionality of Government Research Grants

There are different forms of public support for industrial R&D. Some attempt to increase innovation by prompting firms to undertake more challenging projects than they would otherwise do. Access to a dataset from one such program, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency, allows me to examine the effect of research grants on firms’ patenting outcomes. My estimates suggest that a government research grant increases the propensity to file a patent application with the European Patent Office by around 12 percentage points. Stronger effects appear for more experienced firms of advanced age. Additional evidence indicates that grants induce experienced firms to develop unconventional patents and patents that draw on knowledge novel to the firm. I interpret the findings in a “exploration vs. exploitation” model, in which grants are targeted at ambitious projects that face internal competition from more conventional projects within firms. The model shows that this mechanism is more salient in experienced firms, leading to a stronger response in behavior for this group of firms.

Ability Differences, Noise, and Performance in Crowdsourcing Contests (with Jonas Heite and Karin Hoisl)
Former title: Ability Differences and Performance in Crowdsourcing Contests
Currently under revision

We use a quasi-experimental design on a real-world crowdsourcing platform to examine the performance effects that are attributable to ability differences in contests with noise. Based on data from an online platform for programming competitions, we show that the heterogeneous contest design leads to a discouragement effect that depresses the performance of contestants that are exposed to stronger opponents by 20%. The homogeneous design, which approximates a (perfectly) homogeneous contest as close as this can be achieved in our real-world crowdsourcing setting, still leads to a performance differential of around 11% that is attributable to the residual heterogeneity. Noise inherent to the crowdsourcing task reduces the size of the discouragement effect. In an extension, we show that contestants that are exposed to stronger opponents are more likely to explore unconventional problem-solving strategies. Our results have important implications for the design of crowdsourcing contests and contribute to the literature on asymmetric contests.

Ongoing Work

Open border policy and knowledge diffusion (with Gabriele Cristelli)

Prior studies have documented that country borders act as barriers to the diffusion of knowledge. Exploiting the opening of the Swiss labor market to German cross-border workers in the wake of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), we examine the effect of increased labor mobility on the diffusion of patented inventions from German border regions in Switzerland. We find that patents that were developed in the vicinity of the border (in the decade prior) receive around 52% more Swiss citations after the reform, compared to patents that were developed in locations that are too distant to allow for cross-border commuting. The reform appears to have increased diffusion across organizational boundaries, mainly between firms with no observed cross-border collaborations and between different, non-overlapping inventor teams (i.e. no “self-citations”). Using textual similarity as an alternative measure of diffusion, we corroborate our results by showing that the reform increased the number of (subsequent) Swiss patents that appear highly similar to patents from German border regions.

Draft available upon request

The importance of mentors: evidence from faculty deaths (with Bruce Weinberg and Enrico Berkes)

Draft available upon request