Investigating the Global Productivity Effects of Highly Skilled Labor Migration: How Immigrant Athletes Impact Olympic Medal Counts

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Horowitz, Jonathan Joseph
McDaniel, Stephen R
Labor migration is a defining attribute of today's global economy, as more people live outside their country of birth than ever before and workers have more opportunities beyond their local borders (GCIM, 2005). This has motivated scholars to better understand the mobility of human capital and its various effects. While data are available to track aggregate migration patterns between countries, it is much more difficult to determine its association with such metrics as gains or losses in productivity for specific sectors of industry (Asis & Piper, 2008). Athletes are among the few groups of workers (along with information technology specialists, senior academics, health professionals and teachers) who can seek employment on a global market level while most people have fewer opportunities based on national markets (GCIM, 2005). Moreover, given the availability of records and clear metrics of productivity, the sports entertainment industry provides a unique opportunity to investigate the movement of a highly skilled labor force (Kahn, 2000). Therefore, the current study will investigate 21st century labor migration patterns and their relationship to productivity in the context of arguably the largest, oldest and most global example of sports business, the Summer Olympics. The scholarly and practical implications and future directions for research will be discussed.