Immigration & Entrepreneurship

While immigration remains a significant policy debate in the United States, discussions rarely focus on the contributions of skilled immigrants.  GEE@Duke research shows that skilled immigrants are a driving force behind engineering and technology startups, so much so that one in four US startups in these fields were established by an immigrant founder.  However, our nation may have difficulty retaining these individuals in the years ahead.  Burgeoning economies in developing countries and fixed US visa caps may be tarnishing America's attractiveness for immigrants with high technology backgrounds. 




Anatomy of an EntrepreneurAnatomy of an Entrepreneur: Family Background and Motivation, July 2009
Entrepreneurs are among the most celebrated people in our culture. However, very little is known today about the backgrounds, life histories, motivations, and beliefs of the founders of businesses in high-growth industries.

Losing the World's Best and BrightestLosing the World's Best and Brightest, March 2009
Survey results indicate foreign national students in the United States plan to return to their native countries upon graduation in greater numbers.

A Reverse Brain DrainA Reverse Brain Drain, March 2009
The United States, long the beneficiary of talented immigrants, needs to act quickly to keep these valuable workers from leaving to pursue expanding opportunities in their home countries.

America's Loss is the World's GainAmerica's Loss is the World's Gain, March 2009
New research shows that U.S. immigrants are returning home for brighter career prospects and a better quality of life


Skilled Immigrants and Economic GrowthSkilled Immigration and Economic Growth, May 2008
Skilled immigrants have achieved great success in founding U.S. engineering and technology startups, which have in turn contributed greatly to the country’s economic growth over time.

America's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part IIIAmerica's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Intellectual Property, the Immigration Backlog, and a Reverse Brain-Drain, Part III, August 2007
More than one million skilled immigrant workers are competing for 120,000 permanent U.S. resident visas yearly, creating a sizable imbalance likely to fuel a "reverse brain-drain" with skilled workers returning to their home country.

America's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part IIAmerica's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part II, June 2007
Here we examine the contributions of immigrant key founders in 11 major US technology centers and explore the correlation between educational attainment (particularly in science, technology, engineering and math) and entrepreneurship.

America's New Immigrant EntrepreneursAmerica's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part I, January 2007
Skilled immigrants are a driver of technology generation in the United States. In this report we quantify the economic and intellectual property contributions of these individuals.