updated March 11, 2009; BANGALORE:
A study conducted jointly by three American universities, deflates somewhat, the current paranoia in the US over local job losses due to presumed outsourcing to destinations like India, by large corporations, which might or might not include some banks receiving large federal handouts. Iinsufficiently briefed legislators rant about 'bailed out banks' which have been requesting work visas for foreigners even as they laid off native workers. Meanwhile the study entitled "America's Loss is the world's gain", conducted at Duke University, the Harvard Law School and the University of California at Berkeley, concludes that the problem is not how many are coming to the US -- but how many are leaving.
Led by Vivek Wadhwa, Senior Research Associate at the Harvard Law School and Executive in Residence at Duke University, the study sponsored by the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation ( "the world'slargest foundation devoted to entrepreneurship") says placing limits on foreign workers in the US is not the answer to the country's rising unemployment rate. In fact a large number of skilled immigrants have started returning home, draining a key source of brain power and innovation, the study concludes.
"Immigrants have contributed disproportionately in the most dynamic part of the US economy-- the high tech sector-- co-founding firms such as Google, Intel, eBay and Yahoo... and have contributed to more than a quarter of the US global patent applications... they have founded US based companies ( which) employed 450,000 workers and generated $ 52 billion in revenues in 2006".
And here's the interesting part:
Many young and skilled workers in their mid thirties, particularly Indians and Chinese, with degrees -- mostly masters or doctorates -- in management, technology and science, are returning home. They cite better career prospects and quality of life back home, as well as a growing demand for their skills in their own countries. Over half of them say the best opportunities for entrepreneurship were at home -- they were likely to start their own business in 3 to 5 years. Being close to family and friends was another magnet, they say ( This is an interesting insight, considering how many young techie immigrants to the US have had to struggle with insensitive quotas, for years before they could bring their spouses or close family to live with them).
In a mail to SAJA, the South Asia Journalists' Association, a professional networking group for journalists of South Asian origin based in North America, Wadhwa writes:
"The U.S. has always had the luxury of being arrogant about immigration because it has been the strongest magnet for the world's best and brightest. As this paper shows, there are other strong magnets now. ...
With the economic downturn, my guess is that we'll have over 100,000 Indians and as many Chinese return home over the next 3-5 years. This flood of western educated and skilled talent will greatly boost the economies of India and China and strengthen their competitiveness. India is already becoming a global hub for R&D. This will allow it to branch into many new areas and will accelerate the trend."
A PDF copy of the study report can be downloaded from the web site of the The Kauffman Foundation. Here is the link:
Vivek Wadhwa writes in The Washington Post on Sunday
They are taking their brains and going home!
".... rather than welcome these entrepreneurs, the U.S. government is confining many of them to a painful purgatory."