International Mobility of Research Scientists

By Stephan, Paula | NBER Reporter, Fall 2013 | Go to article overview

International Mobility of Research Scientists


Stephan, Paula, NBER Reporter


In the United States, approximately half of all PhDs awarded in science and engineering go to the foreign born. (1) More than two-thirds of temporary residents who receive PhDs in science and engineering work in a research capacity while in graduate school. The proportion is over 80 percent in engineering. (2) Approximately 60 percent of postdoctoral fellows are in the U.S. on a temporary visa and approximately 42 percent of those with a doctoral degree working in a science and engineering occupation in the US were born outside the US. There is evidence that the foreign born contribute disproportionately to exceptional contributions in science and engineering and that highly productive scientists are even more mobile than the underlying scientific population. Despite the importance of the foreign born, it is difficult to make cross-country comparisons regarding their presence and role because of the absence of consistent data across countries. Most OECD countries, for example, collect data on recipients of tertiary degrees by immigration status, but the data do not distinguish between those with PhDs vs. other tertiary degrees; nor do they distinguish field of study. Moreover, most countries have an incomplete picture of the migration patterns of scientists born in their country because it is difficult to track individuals working outside their country of origin.

To provide consistent cross-country data on active researchers, my coauthors and I fielded the GlobSci survey of corresponding authors of articles published in 2009 in four fields of science: biology, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, and materials. The fields were chosen in part because 95 percent or more of all articles published in these disciplines contain the corresponding author's email. We focused on researchers who were studying or working in one of 16 "core" countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and US. China was initially included in the survey. However, a low response rate of less than 5 percent for a test sample of Chinese addresses suggested that respondents were either not receiving the invitation or had problems responding to the invitation. The response rate to the web-based survey, which was administered during the spring of 2011, was 40.6 percent. Country of origin was determined by asking the respondents to report country of residence at age 18.

Mobility Patterns of the Foreign Born

We find widely varying patterns of immigration and emigration for the 17,000-plus scientists for whom country of origin and country of residence in 2011 could be determined. (3) The country with the largest percent of PhD scientists who are immigrants was Switzerland (56.7); followed distantly by Canada (46.9); Australia (44.5) and then by the US (38.4). Virtually no foreign-born scientists reported working in India; only 3 percent of the research-active scientists in Italy and 5 percent in Japan are foreign. Immigrant scientists were asked to evaluate the importance of fourteen possible reasons for coming to work or study in their country of residence. Virtually no variation exists across country in response. The "opportunity to improve my future career prospects" and the presence of "outstanding faculty, colleagues or research team" trump all other reasons. Regardless of country, respondents list family reasons or fringe benefits last among reasons for coming to work or study in a foreign country.

Our approach provides information on emigration flows among core countries. We find Indians to be the most likely to emigrate--almost 40 percent of scientists living in India at age 18 were working outside the country at the time of the survey. Approximately one-third of Swiss scientists are outside their home country; the Netherlands and the UK have the next highest rate of emigration. The country with the lowest percent of emigrants is Japan (3 percent) but the US is a close second (5 percent). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

International Mobility of Research Scientists
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.