Summary of The Immigrant Exodus

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The Immigrant Exodus book summary

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In this Economist magazine book of the year, Vivek Wadhwa – entrepreneur, job creator and director of research for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University – argues that the United States faces a “reverse brain-drain” of crisis proportions. He presents shocking study findings that large numbers of Indian, Chinese and other immigrants leave America after their H-1B skilled worker visas expire. These valuable entrepreneurs and employees return to their home countries for two clear reasons: US visa policy is restrictive and the government refuses to recognize how much these immigrants contribute. Wadhwa draws on his own experience as a child immigrant to make a cogent argument for immediate changes in US policy. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends his concise, clear reasoning and accessible writing to entrepreneurs, immigrants, state and federal lawmakers, and anyone who wants to see the US remain a world leader in innovation.

About the Author

Vivek Wadhwa is director of research for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University and a fellow at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University. Writer Alex Salkever is a former editor.


In February 2012, author Vivek Wadhwa received the “Outstanding American by Choice” award, which honors immigrants who become US citizens and notably contribute to their new country. He hadn’t needed to choose US citizenship. After obtaining a computer science degree at the University of Canberra, he found a good job and gained permanent residence in Australia. But, in 1980, he gave that security up to move to the US, where he believed “‘great things’ were possible.”

Wadhwa took a low-level programming job at Xerox. In 18 months, he obtained his green card, the “permanent residence visa.” After six years, he became an analyst-programmer on Wall Street. He left to help launch a start-up, Seer Technologies. In time, Seer generated 1,000 new jobs. Wadhwa’s next start-up, Relativity Technologies, created 200 new jobs in North Carolina. After a near-fatal heart attack, he began his teaching and research career at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering.

Immigration Policies

Building on the research of Berkeley professor AnnaLee Saxenian, and working with her, Wadhwa learned that in 1998, Indians and Chinese led roughly one-fourth of America’s high-tech companies...

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