Innovation & Competitiveness

Intellectual Property

Productivity & Innovation

Science and R&D Policy

Skills & Education

Information Technology

Digital Economy & Society


Opposition to IT


Global Markets



Join Our Email List

Join us on LinkedIn

Reports & Events Feed  RSS

Tech Policy Podcast  RSS


Contribute Now



Innovation Economics

Huffington Post

Huffington Post

Internet Evolution

Privacy Working Group

Washington Watch


***This is an archive of the old ITIF website. Content on this website will not be updated. Please visit our new website to see our latest content.***

Policy Issues

Global Flows of Talent: Benchmarking the United States

By David M. Hart
November 17, 2006

Economic prosperity depends now more than ever on the continual generation of new ideas as well as the conversion of those ideas into profitable products/services and higher-productivity processes. Countries aspiring to a higher standard of living must not only take part in the newest industries that flow from technological breakthroughs, they must also infuse all their industries with innovation in order to generate and sustain a competitive advantage. To do so, they have to have people with the right skills, educational background, and talent.

Not surprisingly, public policymakers around the world are waking up to the talent imperative, especially in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Yet at a time when many other nations are making it easier for talented immigrants to enter their country, either as students or workers, the United States is struggling to decide what to do. We have sent out mixed messages to the rest of the world since September 11, 2001, and in the immigration debate of the past year, pragmatic discussion has been drowned out by heated rhetoric about other aspects of immigration.

This policy brief benchmarks flows of highly-skilled and highly educated people to the United States against similar flows to seven other high-income countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the U.K. The brief then compares how national immigration policies – permanent, temporary, and student – foster or constrict these flows. All seven nations in the comparison group are liberalizing their immigration policies for the highly skilled, although some more than others. Finally, we suggest several broad policy recommendations that the United States should consider to ensure that we not only compete effectively for talent in the short-term, but also lead the world toward a global system for developing and using talent that is beneficial for everyone over the long-term.

Read the full text of this report (PDF)