This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Another Twist on the Brain Gain from Migration

Like most countries, the United States does not keep statistics on people who leave the country voluntarily. So, we have only a vague notion of who the ex-pats are. The New York Times has leapt into this void with a story about children of immigrants in the US who have chosen to go back to the country of their parents' origin because opportunities exist there that are more elusive in the US.

In growing numbers, experts say, highly educated children of immigrants to the United States are uprooting themselves and moving to their ancestral countries. They are embracing homelands that their parents once spurned but that are now economic powers.Some...had arrived in the United States as young children, becoming citizens, while others were born in the United States to immigrant parents.Enterprising Americans have always sought opportunities abroad. But this new wave underscores the evolving nature of global migration, and the challenges to American economic supremacy and competitiveness.For generations, the world’s less-developed countries have suffered so-called brain drain — the flight of many of their best and brightest to the West. That has not stopped, but now a reverse flow has begun, particularly to countries like China and India and, to a lesser extent, Brazil and Russia.
This is what has been called the brain gain--young people become educated in the US or Europe and then head off to the less developed countries of their recent ancestors, and help to move the economic ball forward in those places. My own view is that this is ultimately good for everyone. If this is a "challenge" to American economic supremacy and competitiveness it is a positive challenge because it means that the rest of the world is catching up with us, and we are going to have to be even more creative if we want to stay ahead of the pack. 

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