NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How Asian Brain Drain Winds Up Benefitting Asia

April 19, 2002

Some critics view the influx of technologically sophisticated immigrants from China and India into Silicon Valley as robbing their home countries of the very talent those countries need to compete in world markets.

But new research shows the process is a two-way street.

Here are some findings of a survey by the Public Policy Institute of California to be released today:

  • It is common for immigrants who have become a staple of Silicon Valley's growth to export their experience -- and northern California's entrepreneurial culture -- back to their homelands.
  • Immigrant entrepreneurs and professionals -- particularly those from China and India -- are increasingly meeting with government officials and consulting with companies in their homelands.
  • The study found that 18 percent of the immigrants surveyed had invested in their own start-ups or in venture funds in their homelands.
  • Researchers found that 40 percent of the immigrants surveyed had helped arrange business contacts in their countries -- and 30 percent had met with government officials in their homelands.

Some 76 percent of Indian immigrants and 73 percent of Chinese professionals said they would consider starting a venture in their own countries.

Manufacturing isn't the only thing being exported. Ideas are, as well -- specifically the culture of entrepreneurship, those involved point out.

Source: Matt Richtel, "Brain Drain in Technology Found Useful for Both Sides," New York Times, April 19, 2002; AnnaLee Saxenian, "Local and Global Networks of Immigrant Professionals in Silicon Valley," 2002, Public Policy Institute of California.


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