America's Loss is the World's Gain: America's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part 4

24 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2009 Last revised: 22 Dec 2013

Vivek Wadhwa

Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization, Pratt School of Engineering; Stanford University - Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance

AnnaLee Saxenian

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information

Richard B. Freeman

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Edinburgh - School of Social and Political Studies; Harvard University; London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)

G. Gereffi

Duke University - Department of Sociology - Director, Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness

Date Written: March 2, 2009

Abstract

Immigrants have historically provided one of America's greatest competitive advantages. They have come to the United States largely to work and have played a major role in the country's recent growth. Between 1990 and 2007, the proportion of immigrants in the U.S. labor force increased from 9.3 percent to 15.7 percent. Approximately 45 percent of the growth of the work force over this period consisted of immigrants. Moreover, a large and growing proportion of immigrants come with high levels of education and skill. They have contributed disproportionately in the most dynamic part of the U.S. economy - the high-tech sector. Immigrants have co-founded firms such as Google, Intel, eBay, and Yahoo. And immigrant inventors contributed to more than a quarter of U.S. global patent applications.

Since even before the 2008 financial and economic crisis, some observers have noted that a substantial number of highly skilled immigrants have started returning to their home countries, including persons from low-income countries like India and China who have historically tended to stay permanently in the United States. These returnees contributed to the tech boom in those countries and arguably spurred the growth of outsourcing of back-office processes as well as of research and development.

Who are these returnees? What motivated their decision to leave the United States? How have they fared since returning?

This paper attempts to answer these questions through a survey of 1,203 Indian and Chinese immigrants who had worked or received their education in the United States and returned to their home country.

We find that, though restrictive immigration policies caused some returnees to depart the United States, the most significant factors in the decision to return home were career opportunities, family ties, and quality of life.

Keywords: Immigration, entrepreneurship, India, China, workforce, labor migration, policy

Suggested Citation

Wadhwa, Vivek and Saxenian, AnnaLee and Freeman, Richard B. and Gereffi, G., America's Loss is the World's Gain: America's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part 4 (March 2, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1348616 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1348616

Vivek Wadhwa (Contact Author)

Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization, Pratt School of Engineering ( email )

Durham, NC 27708
United States

Stanford University - Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance ( email )

Crown Quadrangle 559 Nathan Ab
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

AnnaLee Saxenian

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information ( email )

102 South Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-4600
United States

Richard B. Freeman

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-868-3900 (Phone)
617-868-2742 (Fax)

University of Edinburgh - School of Social and Political Studies ( email )

Adam Ferguson Building
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LL
United Kingdom

Harvard University ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-868-3900 (Phone)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE

Gary Gereffi

Duke University - Department of Sociology - Director, Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness ( email )

Box 90088
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States
919-660-5880 (Phone)
919-684-2855 (Fax)

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