America's Brain Drain

The U.S. awards over 50% of all engineering, mathematics, computer sciences, physics and economics doctorates to foreign students, according to the National Science Foundation. Many of these students have traditionally remained in the country upon graduation to pursue work and post-doctoral opportunities. However, new research out of Duke University shows that the number of foreign undergraduate and graduate students who intend to leave the U.S. within 5 years of graduation is growing. Restrictive immigration policies are only partly to blame. More common reasons for leaving include:

  • Promising economic future of home country - 74% of Chinese and 86% of Indians say the best days for their home country’s economy lie ahead
  • Better career prospects in home country - 87% of Chinese and 79% of Indians see a growing demand for their skills in their home country
  • Proximity to family and friends - 77% of Chinese and 88% of Indians state a desire to be closer to family and friends

American employers and policy makers alike should be concerned. While immigrants represent only 12% of the U.S. population, they have started 52% of Silicon Valley’s technology companies and contributed to over 25% of America’s global patents. If reverse migration trends continue, it will signal America’s first brain drain of talented youth. To stay competitive, U.S. employers must develop new strategies for recruiting and retaining skilled foreign and domestic workers. The future of their businesses will depend on it.

For more information on this research and for insight into workforce planning and talent management solutions for a global workforce, join us for our October 22 online seminar, Future Workforce: Millennials in a Global Context."