Losing the World's Best and Brightest: America's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part V

19 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2009 Last revised: 23 Feb 2014

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)

Alex Salkever

Duke University - Pratt School of Engineering

Date Written: March 19, 2009

Abstract

Foreign national students have come to the United States to study in increasing numbers and participated in some of the most advanced academic research efforts to date, lending enormous brainpower to the development of technological and scientific innovations that benefitted America. The students were drawn to the United States by the country's highly vaunted academic research institutions and enormous budgets for funding basic and applied research.

Upon completion of their studies, significant numbers of foreign students have traditionally chosen to remain in the U.S. to work full-time or pursue post-doctoral work. More recently, as the economies of the developing world have grown rapidly and Western economies have grown less quickly, anecdotal evidence has begun to suggest that fewer foreign national students wish to stay in the U.S. after graduation. Reports in the popular press, and elsewhere have suggested that many of these students now believe that greater opportunities exist elsewhere in the world. To date, there has been very little empirical research, aside from the NSF surveys, into the post-graduate intentions of foreign nationals, and the key factors driving their decisions to seek to stay in the U.S. or to move abroad. This paper attempts to fill some of this void.

This paper is based on an Facebook survey of 1,224 foreign nationals who are currently studying in institutions of higher learning in the United States or who had graduated by the end of the 2008 academic school year.

We found that foreign national students in our sample are planning to leave the U.S. after graduation in numbers that appear to be higher than the historical norm as measured in STEM disciplines. A significant percentage of these students also say they intend to open businesses in the future. This expressed intention is prevalent among Indian and Chinese nationals currently studying in the U.S. This would appear to be a marked contrast to the recent past, when Chinese and Indian degree holders were very likely to stay in the U.S. and continue working or in a research capacity (even more so in the PhD ranks).

Keywords: immigration, education, reverse migration, management, science, engineering, U.S. competitiveness

Suggested Citation

Wadhwa, Vivek and Saxenian, AnnaLee and Freeman, Richard B. and Salkever, Alex, Losing the World's Best and Brightest: America's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part V (March 19, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1362012 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1362012

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

Alex Salkever

Duke University - Pratt School of Engineering ( email )

Masters of Engineering Management Program
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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