The United States is quickly losing its appeal to the world’s most talented immigrants, according to a new study. Researchers at Stanford and the University of Washington culled a large dataset from LinkedIn and found that the the number of Ph.D.s choosing the U.S. as their home base fell by nearly half (29 percent in 2000 vs. 18 percent in 2012).
“The United States continues to occupy a central place in the global migration system. However, its dominant position is no longer indisputable,” concludes the research team.
In contrast, migration to Asia has more than doubled in a decade, skyrocketing from 10 percent of overall highly skilled immigrants to 25 percent in 2012 (above).
Highly skilled immigrants have been an indispensable part of the tech industry’s growth. According to researcher Vivek Wadhwa, roughly 25 percent of Silicon Valley companies had at least one foreign-born founder. Indeed, many of tech’s top companies, from Google to Tesla, were founded by immigrants.
For stat nerds, the researches acknowledge that LinkedIn’s data may be flawed, since it is a self-selected sample of individuals who choose to list their occupation. To confirm their findings, they compared LinkedIn data to the U.S. census and found a high correlation (though a less strong correlation in recent years).
It’s difficult to find global data on highly skilled immigrants in any existing dataset, so LinkedIn may be one of the best sources we have. Readers can see the full study here.