Abstract: In this paper, we study the spatial characteristics of a sample of 2605 highly productive economists, and a subsample of 332 economists with outstanding productivity. Individual productivity is measured in terms of a quality index that weights the number of publications up to 2007 in four journal classes. We analyze the following four issues. (1) The “funneling effect” towards the US and the clustering of scholars in the top US institutions. (2) The high degree of collective inbreeding in the training of elite members. (3) The partition of those born in a given country into brain drain (who work in a country different from their country of origin), brain circulation (who study and/or work abroad followed by a return to the home country), and stayers (whose entire
academic career takes place in their country of origin). We also study the partition of the economists working in 2007 in a given geographical area into nationals (stayers plus brain circulation) and migrants (brain drained from other countries). (4) Finally, we estimate the research output in different geographical areas in two instances: when we classify researchers by the institution where they work in 2007, or by their country of origin.