In new book and research paper, Vivek Wadhwa says U.S. chases away immigrant entrepreneurs

Silicon Valley’s provocateur-in-chief Vivek Wadhwa has unloaded two shotgun blasts today that are sure to stir up widespread debate. Taken together, Wadhwa argues that the U.S. is committing “economic suicide” by being increasingly hostile to immigrants who want to come here to start companies.

Let’s take the research paper first. Sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, it’s called: “Then And Now: America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs.” Full copy can be found here. Wadhwa co-authored the paper with AnnaLee Saxenian, Dean and Professor in the School of Information, and F. Daniel Siciliano, a professor at Stanford Law School.

In a post summarizing the research paper, co-author Samantha Huang, a research assistant at Stanford Law School, wrote:

“Of technology and engineering companies established from 2006 to 2012, the proportion of such companies with at least one founder who was foreign-born has decreased from 25.3% to 24.3%. These findings suggest that high-skilled immigrants have begun to leave the United States for other countries, taking their business with them.”

Silicon Valley, she writes, is doing even worse:

“Most alarming are the results from our special analysis of the high-tech hub of Silicon Valley. From the 1970s to early 2000s, the region boasted thegreatest growth rates of immigrant entrepreneurship. However, since 2005, the rate of growth of immigrant-founded tech companies in the region has dramatically decreased eight and a half percentage points to 43.9%. As the economic health of Silicon Valley often serves as a litmus test for determining the strength of the U.S. economy, such an astonishing drop in immigrant entrepreneurship may also mean trouble for the nationwide tech industry, which has relied extensively on the contributions of foreign-born innovators.”

In tandem, Wadhwa also released a book based, in part, on that research: “The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent.”

According to a summary of the book:

“Vivek Wadhwa, a leading scholar and public voice on entrepreneurship and public policy, makes clear that the issue is not simply the threat of “reverse brain drain” but a newly identified and historically unprecedented halt in high-growth, immigrant-founded start-ups. The U.S. hasn’t yet responded to the intensifying competition that countries such as China and India offer, and has left some of the most educated and talented entrepreneurial immigrants with no choice but to take their innovation elsewhere. The consequences to our economy are dire; our multi-trillion-dollar loss will be our global competitors’ gain.”

If you get a copy, let us know you what you think. Wadhwa has also set up Website to further discuss the issues.

You can also check out this feature on CNN by Fareed Zakaria:


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