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The Influence of Foreign-born Directors on the US Film Industry [[Job Market Paper]]

This paper studies the contribution of foreign-born directors to US-produced films. I construct a unique director-distributor matched dataset on films released between 1925 and 2019 with director nationality. I use two metrics to quantify the "quality" of films: Oscar awards and film box office revenue. I first apply the standard fixed-effect analysis and find that a foreign-born director's film is more likely to get nominated into Oscars, and conditional on being nominated, the films get more Oscar nominations and more awards; and that a foreign-born director results in a higher international box office, but a lower domestic box office than their native-born counterparts. In addition, I use natural language processing tools to quantify text-based data on film plot summaries and construct film twin pairs to perform a quasi-experimental analysis. This yields qualitatively similar results as with the fixed-effect analysis. Over time, the relative advantage of foreign-born directors in the international market has been decreasing, as well as the relative advantage of the native-born directors in the domestic market.

Education and the Journey to the Core: What does Schooling do for Industrial Diversification? (With Jesus Felipe and Aashish Mehta) [SSRN]

We provide the first evidence that low- and middle-income countries with high education levels were more successful in developing comparative advantage in products unrelated to those they already export. In contrast, controlling for the relatedness of target products to these countries exports, education appears unimportant for developing comparative advantage in products that are intrinsically complex or education intensive. These results are supported by analysis of the evolution of comparative advantage in 1,240 products from 49 low- and middle-income countries between 1995 and 2015. They are robust to corrections for measurement and specification errors, for institutional, infrastructure, and foreign direct investment-related factors, for regional specialization patterns, and for each economys degree of industrial dynamism prior to 1995. These results suggest that the key role of education when seeking to shift from peripheral to core products is to help a country cope with unfamiliar challenges, and so overcome path dependence.