24 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2009 Last revised: 22 Dec 2013
Date Written: March 2, 2009
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: 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