Slimming prospects in US results in reverse ‘brain drain’

Slimming prospects in US results in reverse ‘brain drain’
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First Published: Sun, Mar 08 2009. 04 15 PM IST
Updated: Sun, Mar 08 2009. 04 15 PM IST
Washington: Burgeoning new economies abroad and flagging prospects in the United States are pushing “talented” immigrants, including those from India, to move back to their homes, according to a new study.
For more than 40 years, India and China suffered a major “brain drain” as tens of thousands of talented people made their way to US, a news report here said quoting Vivek Wadhwa author of the study.
But, burgeoning new economies abroad along with flagging prospects in the US and the lumbering US immigration rules have forced talent from these nations, 80% of whom held master’s degrees or doctorates in management, technology or science - precisely the kind of people who could make the greatest contribution to the US economy, to move back.
Pointing out that “America’s loss will be the world’s gain”, Wadhwa, in study published in Washington Post today, said, “Immigrants who leave the US will launch companies, file patents and fill the intellectual coffers of other countries.
“Their talents will benefit nations such as India, China and Canada, not the US,” the study said.
Noting that almost 25% of all international patent applications filed from the US in 2006 named foreign nationals as inventors, Wadhwa said, “when smart young foreigners leave these shores, they take with them the seeds of tomorrow’s innovation.”
In 2005 alone, immigrants’ businesses generated $52 billion in sales and employed 450,000 workers, the post said.
The study further reveals that a sizable number of those whose left the US said that they had advanced significantly in their careers since leaving America.
“They were more optimistic about opportunities for entrepreneurship, and more than half planned to start their own businesses, if they had not done so already. Only a quarter said that they were likely to return to the US.”
The facts hold importance because the US has heavily relied on smart immigrants to staff its labs, engineering design studios and tech firms.
An analysis of the 2000 Census showed that immigrants made up 47% of all scientists and engineers with doctorates. What’s more, 67 per cent of all those who entered the fields of science and engineering between 1995 and 2006 were immigrants.
What will happen to America’s competitive edge when these people go home? Wadhwa asks.
Yet rather than welcoming these entrepreneurs, the US government is confining many of them to a painful purgatory, he comments.
Wadhwa made the conclusions after recently surveying 1,200 Indians and Chinese, most in their 30s who worked or studied in the US and then returned home, for the Kaufmann Foundation.
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First Published: Sun, Mar 08 2009. 04 15 PM IST
More Topics: US | Jobs | Immigrants | Brain Drain | India |