Attracting PhD talent to the US

In about 1980, PhD candidates began to show up from middle income countries, and from about 1990 candidates from low income countries (mainly India and China) surged. In 2008, close to half of PhD candidates in the U.S. in science and engineering came from abroad.

According to a 2013 published article, “Over the last half century, the United States has been the most important training ground for the global supply of science and engineering talent. Where S&E PhDs choose to locate after they have completed their education is likely to affect the global distribution of innovative capacity.

“77% of foreign-born S&E PhDs state that they plan to stay in the United States. The foreign students more likely to stay in the US are those with stronger academic ability, measured in terms of parental educational attainment and the student’s success in obtaining graduate fellowships.

“We find that S&E PhDs with the strongest academic potential, measured in terms of their attributes and performance at the time they enter graduate school, are those most intent on staying in the United States. The United States tends to succeed in luring the best and
brightest foreign students it has attracted to study in the country to stay in the United States after their degrees are completed.

“As countries develop they become more attractive locations for PhDs in science and engineering. Korea and Taiwan are possible examples of self-reinforcing processes [to return home]. They also provide examples of the powerful role that democratization can play in encouraging highly skilled workers to return home.”

Source: Attracting Talent: Location Choices of Foreign-Born PhDs in the United States. By
Jeffrey Grogger and Gordon H. Hanson.


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