US-China Tensions and Talent Mobility: Evidence from Air Traffic Data

26 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2021

See all articles by Zheng Wang

Zheng Wang

De Montfort University; GEP, University of Nottingham

Li Tang

Fudan University - School of International Relations and Public Affairs (SIRPA)

Cong Cao

University of Nottingham, Ningbo

Zhuo Zhou

Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences

Date Written: November 8, 2020

Abstract

We provide a quantification of the impact of the recent US-China political tensions on talent flows from China to the US through the lens of monthly air passenger traffic data. By exploring variations across origin countries and geographical locations of US airports as well as differences over time, we find that the tensions, which escalated since 2018, have led to a more than 10% drop annually in the number of trips made from China to US airports near universities with a significant presence of Chinese students. A further investigation reveals that the decline in passenger inflows is driven mainly by the loss of passenger arrivals in August -- the peak time for international student travels to the US -- and is consistently steeper than the decrease for airports near tourist destinations during the same period. These findings offer fresh and updated evidence on the detrimental impact a hostile political climate could have on international talent mobility between two major economic and scientific powers, which is only part of all possible losses to both sides.

Keywords: US-China tensions, Trade war, Talent mobility, Air traffic

JEL Classification: F22, I28, J61

Suggested Citation

Wang, Zheng and Tang, Li and Cao, Cong and Zhou, Zhuo, US-China Tensions and Talent Mobility: Evidence from Air Traffic Data (November 8, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3739306 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3739306

Zheng Wang (Contact Author)

De Montfort University ( email )

Department of Economics and Marketing
The Gateway
Leicester, LE1 9BH
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://zhengwang.weebly.com/

GEP, University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
United Kingdom

Li Tang

Fudan University - School of International Relations and Public Affairs (SIRPA) ( email )

220 Handan Road
Shanghai, 200433
China

Cong Cao

University of Nottingham, Ningbo ( email )

199 Taikang East Road
Ningbo, Zhejiang 315100
China

Zhuo Zhou

Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences ( email )

Shanghai Huaihai Middle Road 722 lane
Shanghai, shanghai
China

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