The current migration crisis is raising public awareness to the importance of population movements. Recent studies show that 3% of the global population does not live in their native countries (see Özden et al., 2011). Population movements have been increasing since the 1960s and are becoming more and more asymmetrical: the majority of current immigration waves focus on a few countries and cities of destination. In particular, the destinations of highly qualified migrants – interesting from an economic point of view – are concentrated on a few English-speaking regions with relatively high incomes (Kerr et al., 2016). The reasons for the migration of highly skilled workers to their destination countries are manifold: On the one hand, the desire to spend one to two semesters in the destination country as an exchange student, or even to gain a foreign degree over an extended period (two to four years). On the other hand, however, political conflicts and economic crises in the country of origin can lead to the emigration of highly qualified people.
Technological progress through innovation is probably the most important driving force of the productivity (and in turn welfare) growth of developed economies. What happens, however, when it becomes increasingly difficult to develop new, groundbreaking ideas that increase our productivity and promote economic growth? In Germany, we observe that the innovative strength becomes increasingly concentrated in a few industries, such as the automotive and chemical industries. At the same time, other sectors, for example, the software industry, was never really competitive on an international level. A similar specialization also takes place at a regional level. Companies in some regions of Germany, especially in the south, are highly innovative and contribute strongly to overall economic growth, while other regions are stagnating.