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Flight Capital: The Alarming Exodus of America's Best And Brightest
By David Heenan
Flight Capital: The Alarming Exodus of America's Best And Brightest by David Heenan describes how many other countries are working to become world leaders in technology. Because of new opportunities in their native countries, fewer ultra-high-talent foreign students are seeking higher education in America.
What isn't well understood by most Americans is just how dependent America is upon imported, foreign talent.
Heenan writes: "Today, the country continues to benefit enormously from being a magnet for inventive and ambitious people who stimulate the economy, create wealth, and improve overall living standards. Chinese and Indian immigrants run nearly a quarter of Silicon Valley's high-tech firms. Half of the Americans who shared Nobel Prizes in physics and chemistry in the past seven years were born elsewhere. Nearly 40 percent of MIT graduate students are from abroad. More than half of all Ph.D.s working here are foreign-born, as are 45 percent of physicists, computer scientists, and mathematicians. One-third of all current physics teachers and one-fourth of all women doctors immigrated to this country."
Many talented students come to America, because America has the best graduate schools in the world. That strength gives America a brain influx from other countries. But, other countries are catching up. We learn the Indian Institutes of Technology are more difficult to get into than MIT or Harvard.
Students in India face fierce academic competition. Heenan writes: "[Indian] culture views mathematical and scientific expertise as a prerequisite to economic advancement. … Parents send their children to rigorous cram schools so they will qualify for even ordinary preschools. … In elementary school, children master algebra; on completion of middle school, many have acquired a far better grounding in math and science than the average high-schooler in the United States."
Because of the large educated population, multinational companies have strong bases in India. Heenan tells us: "In the past four years, an estimated 300,000 high-tech and engineering jobs have moved to India. … At the same time, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 234,000 American IT professionals are unemployed."
In addition to India and China, Heenan discusses some countries, which we might not think of as potential technology powerhouses, including Ireland and Iceland. Other countries covered include Singapore, Taiwan, Israel, and Mexico.
Heenan notes, "For the first time on record, the United States ran a high-tech trade deficit in 2003, a trend that continues today."
Heenan offers possible solutions to help stem the flow of technological superiority away from the U.S., including reforming public education, eliminating restrictions on stem-cell research, and encouraging young people to enter engineering and the sciences.
Flight Capital: The Alarming Exodus of America's Best And Brightest is good reading for anybody interested in technology, science, and entrepreneurship.