Wednesday, October 03, 2012

We need to revise immigration policy to promote innovation.

The Economist provides an article based on Robert Litan and Carl Schramm's book, Better Capitalism: Renewing the Entrepreneurial Strength of the American Economy. The book and article cite figures demonstrating that the American economy which fueled the world's economic growth for decades, has slowed it rate of technological innovation and enterprise creation. Litan and Schramm suggest several approaches that the nation could use to restore innovation as a motor for American growth (hopefully with secondary benefits to the rest of the world). Let me share a quotation with one of the ideas I like:
America also used to have one of the most business-friendly immigration policies. Fully 18% of the Fortune 500 list as of 2010 were founded by immigrants (among them AT&T, DuPont, eBay, Google, Kraft, Heinz and Procter & Gamble). Include the children of immigrants and the figure is 40%. Immigrants founded a quarter of successful high-tech and engineering companies between 1995 and 2005. They obtain patents at twice the rate of American-born people with the same educational credentials. But America’s immigration policies have tightened dramatically over the past decade, a period in which some other rich countries, such as Canada, have continued to woo skilled immigrants, while fabulous new opportunities have opened up in emerging markets like China and India. Why endure America’s visa obstacle course when other countries are laying out the red carpet?
I can understand the concern with undocumented aliens since many of them have circumvented the defined processes to come to and live in America, and since some of them may take jobs from our citizens, and a few may constitute threats. But why would we want to exclude people who could improve our technology and create businesses -- things that would create employment and enrich us all?

Source of image: The Innovation Movement

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