Imran Arif

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Business and Economics



Committee Chair

Shuichiro Nishioka

Committee Co-Chair

Arabinda Basistha

Committee Member

Joshua C Hall

Committee Member

Maryam N Nejad


This dissertation contains research on three topics in economic development. The main argument of this dissertation is that when societies interact, they learn new ideas, superior technologies, and new production processes from each other. Any barriers to this interaction can hurt the diffusion of ideas across nations. Chapter 1 tests the relationship between international travel and institutions. This paper features a neglected channel of institution convergence among countries, i.e., international travel. International travel clearly increases human interaction over space and exposes societies to foreign influences, foreign ideas, and foreign institutions. Does international travel promote institutional change in a traveler's home country? This paper uses panel data on 149 countries from 1995-2012 to test the hypothesis of institutional convergence among countries stemming from international travel. Our instrumental variable results indicate that institutions are very persistent over time and that international travel itself is not a significant determinant of institution quality in the home country. However, institutional quality in host countries visited by travelers has a significant effect on home country institutions, and this effect increases with the number of travelers. In the system GMM settings, we do find evidence for institutional convergence among countries. Chapter 2 tests the relationship between mobility of international students and technology diffusion. This paper investigates whether foreign qualified students bring new ideas and technical expertise from abroad, disperse them, and stimulate aggregate productivity in their home countries. An instrumental variable is derived from a fitted gravity equation model. An unbalanced panel data of 111 countries during the period 1950-2012 shows that foreign education has a statistically significant effect on technology diffusion. The results are robust across different sub-samples and to the inclusion of other channels of technology diffusion. These findings should prove helpful to policy makers in developing economies to adopt more open education policies and to increase public spending on foreign education. Chapter 3 tests the relationship between barriers to international mobility and technology diffusion. Barriers to international mobility are the critical factors to impede the process of international technology diffusion. Using bilateral visa restrictions data from 30 host and 198 home countries over the period of 2001-2012, this paper shows that the international technology gap increases as the barriers to international mobility increase. These results are robust across three different measures of visa restrictions and even after taking care of econometric problem of endogeneity. The results suggest that visa facilitation programs by advanced countries could promote international technology diffusion.