The United States has always been known as a nation of immigrants and a top destination for scientists and other highly skilled professionals. That ability to attract the world’s most educated and innovative people to its shores has often been credited with powering the US economy.
But strikingly, a new study of worldwide migration patterns suggests the US is losing its reputation as a mecca for professionals as its global share of the most highly educated migrants declines. The result raises the question of whether the country can remain competitive in attracting top talent in an increasingly globalized economy.
Colleagues and I analyzed recent trends in international migration of highly skilled workers – those with bachelor’s degrees or higher – using a data set of unprecedented detail, extracted from LinkedIn, the social networking website for professionals.
LinkedIn counts more than 200 million members in more than 200 countries and territories. People typically use their LinkedIn profiles to post their employment and educational history. That information provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date picture of the international flows of highly skilled migrants.
Respecting the privacy of LinkedIn’s members was a primary concern for us. We removed all personally identifiable information from our data set before conducting the study and only analyzed data in aggregate.