Date of Award

August 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Niloy Bose

Committee Members

Narayan K Kishor, Scott J Adams, John Heywood


Choice Model, Econometrics, High Skilled Labor, Matching, Migration


This thesis consists of three essays on the post-graduation career choices of doctoral

students in the U.S. and the impact these choices may have on innovation and the

competitiveness that the U.S. enjoys in the global science and engineering landscape.

The first chapter studies the location choice of work of foreign-born U.S. doctorates,

who have been playing a central role in shaping the U.S. skilled workforce over the

past few decades. Evidence suggests that not all foreign-born U.S. doctorates choose

to remain in the U.S. following graduation. This chapter uses a new data set -

the International Survey of Doctoral Recipients (ISDR) - to identify a number of

demographic and country specific factors having implications for location choice of

work for foreign-born U.S. PhDs. In addition, we find evidence of a temporal increase

in the intensity of positive skill selection among foreign-born U.S. PhDs leaving the

U.S. workforce. The result indicates that U.S. may be losing premium talent to global


The second chapter studies the choice of the type of job that a S&E doctoral

student matches with and how job-skill match in the labor market for scientists

impacts productivity at the industry level and hence innovative processes at the aggregate level. This chapter primarily offers a transparent theoretical approach that

demands relatively little from the data and yet produces reliable estimates of the

output gain due to job-skill match in the labor market. We apply this approach

to data containing information on job choices of scientists in the U.S. The results

suggest that for all major skill types/industries, job-skill match creates larger value as

opposed to skill mismatch. At the same time, the estimated match surplus responds

differently to economic conditions across industries. This difference is useful for

uncovering important industry specific traits, including an industry’s propensity

toward diversification and innovation. In addition, we investigate the relationship

between the output gained due to a skill match and innovation at an aggregate

level. We find that an increase in a market index of output surplus generated by the

skill match increases research output in the economy, as measured by total patent

applications. This points to a channel through which the effects of job-skill match

could show up in the form of higher productivity.

The third chapter builds on the findings in the first chapter by attempting to

uncover the causal relationship between attending a highly ranked graduate program

in the U.S. and the propensity to leave following graduation for foreign-born U.S.

doctoral students. A variety of unobservable factors at the individual level that may

affect the attendance in top programs and propensity to emigrate may attenuate

the correlation that is picked up in naive OLS regressions. To isolate the effect of

attending a top program on the probability of leaving we instrument top program

attendance at the individual level by the average past top program attendance from

the students’ country of origin. The instrument is plausibly correlated with top program attendance since a greater number students attending top programs from a

particular country may encourage others from that country to apply to these programs.

Additionally, this may induce top programs to admit more students from a particular

country since these programs have better information about the quality of education

in the country of origin through past students. The IV results, while conrm the

ndings of the rst chapter, also nd that the naive OLS regressions underestimate

the impact of top program attendance on probability of leaving the U.S. following

graduation substantially.

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