January 29, 2009
Q&A: Reverse brain drain and the U.S. economy


The United Bank of India headquarters in Calcutta.

Though the U.S. has often been called the “land of opportunity,” the country is losing some of its top minds to companies overseas.

In a phenomenon known as reverse brain drain, highly skilled immigrants and foreign students in the U.S. are returning to their home countries — nations like India or China whose industries might seem attractive as U.S. unemployment rises and visa restrictions come into effect.

Read what bloggers are saying about return migration: Home countries lure skilled immigrants away from U.S.

Does the U.S. risk falling behind as these businesspeople and innovators return to work in their home countries? Worldfocus.org’s weekly radio show explores the economic, political and social forces driving reverse brain drain.

Thank you for your questions.

Martin Savidge hosts a panel of experts and addresses viewer questions:

Vivek Wadhwa is a senior research associate at the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School and executive in residence at Duke University. He is an entrepreneur who founded two technology companies and is the author of the forthcoming report tentatively titled “America’s Loss is the World’s Gain,” a study of Chinese and Indian immigrants who have returned to their home countries. Vivek also writes a column at BusinessWeek.

Michele Wucker is the executive director of the World Policy Institute in New York City and the author of “Lockout: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right” and “Why Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians and the Struggle for Hispaniola.” She also was a 2007 Guggenheim Fellow working on evolving notions of citizenship, belonging and exclusion. Her work involves the politics and economics of immigration and integration, transnational political processes, the politics of culture, Latin America and the Caribbean and international finance.

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