It didn’t take me more than a few months to realize that life actually is more fun and comfortable in this part of the world than back at home. My Job at a big corporation with a laid-back culture and life in a relatively smaller town certainly helped.
Sure, I missed my family and friends but the fun and exciting activities in the beautiful Pikes Peak area compensated for it. Soon I concluded that going back to Bangalore or Bombay and survive in those big and crowed cities again probably is difficult.
Well, I was not alone! There are research articles to back me up the fact that most of the Indian (and Chinese) immigrants historically do not return, instead tend to call America their home. They cited ease of living and better career opportunities as the reason.
In 1998, during one of those weekend evenings at Chestnut Hill (“solving the problems of our world over a beer” routine ) Anil told me that he intend to go back to India after a “few years” here. I didn’t hide the sarcasm in my voice when I responded, “be sure to call me, say after 10 years to tell me where you are”. Well, last year he called me. The call was from Chennai.
I was still a skeptic. Last weekend, as part of “solving the problems of our world over a beer” routine (I fortunately have another group to do this with now!), a couple of the guys commented, things are indeed different these days. They claimed that work-life balance aspect is much better in India now. I was still not convinced but decided to investigate more.
Timely as it can be, recent Business Week had a one page article titled “America’s Immigrant Brain Drain” by Vivek Wadhwa. The article is based on survey conducted with 1203 people who had went back to their home country (India or China) after living in United states for a while. To my surprise, most of them said their motivation to return home was not visa issues but said it was based on career opportunities, family ties, and quality of life. In fact, a good number (28% of Indians and 34% of Chinese) of the returnees had green cards or citizenship in US.
This business week article is based on the latest paper of a series of studies examining the contributions of immigrant workers in the technology sector and the immigration issues. They state that companies that immigrants founded employed 450,000 workers and generated $52 billion in revenue in 2006. Latest paper (“America’s Loss Is the World’s Gain“) of this study was based on the LinkedIn survey with 1203 people. One of the motivations of this study was to find the effect of long wait and other issues that affect an immigrant in technology sector to obtain a permanent residency status. As mentioned above, this survey shows that the primary issue is not the immigration process. This paper goes on to suggest some possible ways to stop this Brain Drain. One thought is not only make the immigration process of the worker easier, but also to make it easier for their extended family. Think about how that comment will go in United States in today’s economy.
I am not sure if this survey was done on a statistically diverse sample. Is 1203 a large enough sample for this type of conclusion? Including a group of people that chose to stay in the united states both on a temporary visa status and in a Permanent status would have been a good control group for this study. Nevertheless, this is an interesting study.
I would like to hear from you. Please comment and/or send it to a friend. Do you have intentions to go back? If so, do you have plans already? Why or Why not? If you have gone back, do you still think that was the right decision? Why or Why not?