by Daniel Bennett
A new study entitled America's Loss is the World's Gain was released this week by a team of academic researchers. The report addresses the issue of highly skilled and educated immigrant workers to the U.S. who have returned to their native countries. The researchers utilized a unique methodology in collecting the qualitative data from 1,200+ survey respondents - Linkedin, a professional networking site. The respondents indicated that the main reasons they have returned to their native lands were for career opportunities, family ties and quality of life. Immigration policies were found to be a minor factor.
So why is the loss of immigrants a concern? Immigrants have historically played an vital role in the economic development and entrepreneurship in the U.S. In 2007, 15.7 percent of the U.S. labor force and hence, taxpayer base, was comprised of immigrants --not an insignificant amount. Many of the immigrants returning home are young, highly skilled and hold advanced degrees (engineers, IT professionals, scientists, etc.). This reverse brain drain is likely to be harmful to long-term economic growth in the U.S. at a time when we need entrepreneurship and new businesses to spur an economic recovery.