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February 3, 2009
Tune in: Online radio show on reverse brain drain

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.

Does the U.S. risk falling behind as these businesspeople and innovators return to work in their home countries?’s weekly radio show explores the emerging opportunities for highly-skilled immigrants around the world, U.S. immigration restrictions, and what all this “brain circulation” means for the U.S.

Listen to extended interviews with Hanson Li of a China-based investment bank and Yeniva Sisay, who grew up in the U.S. but returned to her ancestral home of Sierra Leone: China and West Africa beckon talented minds home.

Read the frustrating experience of a “slumdog immigrant” from India who is living in the U.S. on an H-1B visa. Rajeet Mohan also offers some solutions to retain and leverage highly-skilled immigrants in the U.S.

Martin Savidge hosts Vivek Wadhwa and Michele Wucker in our online radio show.

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.

Host: Martin Savidge
Producers: Lisa Biagiotti, Katie Combs and Stephen Puschel




what’s the negative effects of brain rain,


Regrading “Reverse Brain Drain.” People lost jobs. Many were forced to get back to their country of origin due to lack of work in the USA/around the globe.

Yes, some of them were highly skilled/educated. But many of them were poor and un-skilled workers from other nations.

Some immigrants may do good coming back home. Others will not do good coming home. Why? They will not find work when they get back home!


If all these foreign minds are leaving for their home countries, this still [potentially] provides an array of [hitherto] untapped opportunities for those [non-foreign/foreign personnel] who are able to remain here in America and who can maintain their employment and residencies here.

By using the principle of the Idea that…

What is seen concerning the [seemingly] fixed circumference of that Circle [which may represent current full perceptional awareness of world affairs] which seems to define the present limits of what can be observed through evolving insights into the ongoing states of apparent current realities…does not [evenso] impose [necessarily] upon the [as yet] untapped awareness potential concerning what is [necessarily] existent beyond the defining boundary of the Spherical Form through which one must now look until Thought [inspired or worked out] operating behind [and beyond] present limited perspectives is changed*.
{*See note below for further clarification]

By [possibly] utilizing further opportunities to financially and geometrically (re-) establish more feasible yet [perhaps] more [necessarily] unorthodox [because previously untried or not fully utilized in a consistent manner] interconnections/methods [despite the economy] within various subgroups of population layers one might be able to define and discover parallels to the three-dimensional grids [or chords of intersection] of various [previously] mapped out demographics at national levels which will thereby constitute potential factors for meditations upon the states of the economic aspects of the current education/research/employment systems in America.

In other words:
Things will not be able to go on
in the usual “traditional” one-dimensional ways.

The systems [previously] mentioned would need to be [dramatically] revised [or structured differently]
which would allow for more input from those who are often [traditionally] excluded.

[E.g.] People who would not [normally] be
accepted for certain jobs or professions under traditional criteria could be (re-) trained or further orientated into employments utilizing their more [specifically] creative/technical [previously untapped/therefore unused] capabilities as much as their present abilities would allow.

What could be done to negate [to whatever degree] the effects of those leaving the country while yet substantiating the causes into which a new system/structure could be built/used [or reworked] to create or bring out [or flesh out] all the [hitherto] unused potential that many overlook even in the most unlikely of places?

*Note for clarification of how the Principle of the Idea above may be used in application…
This principle of the Circle [and its definitions by noting the limitations of awareness involved] I [indirectly] derived from the text of a certain 17th century writer…
the original text reads as follows:

“The nature of a circle is such that the rectangles formed from the segments of its intersecting chords are equal. Hence an infinite number of equal rectangles are contained in a circle, but none of them can be said to exist except insofar as the circle exists, nor again can the idea of any one of these rectangles be said to exist except insofar as it is comprehended in the idea of a circle.”


Hello Bill:

The term “reverse brain drain” refers to the “brain drained” places that lost talent to the U.S. So, Chinese brains that came to the U.S. are now reversing the flow and returning to China.

You’re right, it is a brain drain for the U.S. What makes it “reverse” is that we are referring to immigrants who are now returning to China, India, parts of West Africa, etc.

Thanks so much for your thought!

Lisa Biagiotti


What I don’t understand is the term “reverse brain drain.” Isn’t it just a brain drain for the U.S.? The reverse of a brain drain would be a brain gusher. Just a thought.

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