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Attracting Talent: Location Choices of Foreign-Born PhDs in the US

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  • Jeffrey Grogger
  • Gordon H. Hanson

Abstract

We use data from the NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates to examine the post-degree location choices of foreign-born students receiving PhDs from US universities in science and engineering. Over the period 1960 to 2008, 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. Foreign students staying in the United States thus appear to be positively selected in terms of academic ability. We also find that foreign students are more likely to stay in the United States if in recent years the US economy has had strong GDP growth or the birth country of the foreign student has had weak GDP growth. Foreign students are less likely to remain in the US if they are from countries with higher average income levels or that have recently democratized. Education and innovation may therefore be part of a virtuous cycle in which education enhances prospects for innovation in low-income countries and innovation makes residing in these countries more attractive for scientists and engineers.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Grogger & Gordon H. Hanson, 2013. "Attracting Talent: Location Choices of Foreign-Born PhDs in the US," NBER Working Papers 18780, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18780
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    2. George J. Borjas & Kirk B. Doran, 2015. "Which Peers Matter? The Relative Impacts of Collaborators, Colleagues, and Competitors," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1104-1117, December.
    3. N. N., 2014. "WIFO-Monatsberichte, Heft 1/2014," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 87(1), January.
    4. Francesco LISSONI, 2016. "Migration and Innovation Diffusion : An Eclectic Survey," Cahiers du GREThA (2007-2019) 2016-11, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée (GREThA).
    5. Paula Stephan & Giuseppe Scellato & Chiara Franzoni, 2015. "International Competition for PhDs and Postdoctoral Scholars: What Does (and Does Not) Matter," Innovation Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 73-113.
    6. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Delia Furtado, 2019. "Settling for Academia?: H-1B Visas and the Career Choices of International Students in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 54(2), pages 401-429.
    7. Gordon H. Hanson & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2017. "High-Skilled Immigration and the Rise of STEM Occupations in US Employment," NBER Chapters, in: Education, Skills, and Technical Change: Implications for Future US GDP Growth, pages 465-494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. John Bound & Murat Demirci & Gaurav Khanna & Sarah Turner, 2015. "Finishing Degrees and Finding Jobs: US Higher Education and the Flow of Foreign IT Workers," Innovation Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 27-72.
    9. Gordon H. Hanson & Chen Liu, 2017. "High-Skilled Immigration and the Comparative Advantage of Foreign-Born Workers across US Occupations," NBER Chapters, in: High-Skilled Migration to the United States and Its Economic Consequences, pages 7-40, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Jürgen Janger & Klaus Nowotny, 2014. "Bestimmungsfaktoren für die Arbeitsplatzwahl von Wissenschaftern und Wissenschafterinnen," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 87(1), pages 81-89, January.
    11. Marco Cintio & Emanuele Grassi, 2017. "International mobility and wages: an analysis of Italian Ph.D. graduates," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 59(3), pages 759-791, November.

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    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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