Tuesday, September 22, 2009


IWS Documented News Service
Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach
School of Industrial & Labor Relations
-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies
Cornell University
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor
---------------------- Stuart Basefsky
New York, NY 10016
-------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

Some recent press releases and stories have focused on research by Vivek Wadhwa and colleagues concerning the REVERSE BRAIN DRAIN. One of the key articles of research on which these stories are built - often not mentioned - is the following:

"The American Brain Drain and Asia" (Vivek Wadhwa, Gary Gereffi, and Alex Salkever). The Asia
Pacific Journal, Vol. 14-1-09, April 4.
Electronic access:
[full-text, 7 pages]

Includes CHARTS....

The United States has long served as a magnet for talented scientists, engineers and mathematicians from China and India. This attraction has proven controversial, both in Asia and in the United States. Economic nationalists in China and India have long complained that the "brain drain" damaged their countries' ability to compete and slowed economic development by skimming off the best talent. For their part, critics in the United States claimed that foreign workers arriving on H-1B visas displaced U.S. knowledge workers and pushed down wages for this class of employment.

In the past five years, however, the pull of the United States has clearly lessened as the entry barriers for immigrants have  become more formidable and as rapid economic development in India and China now provides enhanced professional and entrepreneurial opportunities plus a better quality of life than was previously possible in those countries. More recently, long waits for permanent or extended work visas have discouraged hundreds of thousands of immigrants. And the ongoing financial crisis in the United States has caused a xenophobic backlash, including legal steps taken by the U.S. Congress to limit the award of temporary H-1B visas by U.S. financial corporations receiving bailout funds.

These changes have made life in China and India far more attractive choices for residency. This has resulted in a new demographic trend --  a "reverse brain drain" as thousands of Chinese and Indians who were studying in, or working and living in the United States on a permanent basis, have returned to their Asian homelands or other parts of Asia. To date, the evidence is largely anecdotal. No official statistics on reverse immigration yet exist. However, the topic has become a constant theme in immigrant communities in the United States and abroad. What's more, the trend has potentially profound implications for the global economic balance of power and it could augment technological upgrading in Asia while slowing technology development in the United States.

Some new research has begun to illuminate the decision-making processes behind this reverse brain-drain with evidence on the feelings and beliefs of the Chinese and Indian immigrants and students who make up this trend cohort. A research team including Vivek Wadhwa and Gary Gereffi of Duke University, AnnaLee Saxenian of University of California at Berkeley, Richard Freeman of Harvard University, Guillermina Jasso of New York University and Ben Rissing of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spent three years conducting multiple surveys of thousands of technology and engineering startup companies. The team interviewed hundreds of company founders, surveyed more than 1,000 foreign students and more than 1,000 returnees, and made multiple trips to India and China to understand the on-the-ground situations in those countries.


This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

Stuart Basefsky                   
Director, IWS News Bureau                
Institute for Workplace Studies 
Cornell/ILR School                        
16 E. 34th Street, 4th Floor             
New York, NY 10016                        
Telephone: (607) 255-2703                
Fax: (607) 255-9641                       
E-mail: smb6@cornell.edu                  

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