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The International Brain Drain


As debated extensively in the public sphere in recent months, the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields may be facing an ongoing crisis.  This crisis, known colloquially as the “Brain Drain” refers to the problem of skilled workers in these fields being educated and trained in the United States, and then leaving their field, or emigrating to foreign countries, for a variety of reasons.  However, in a recent piece on Al Jazeera’s news network, Ralph Nader argues popular conception of this problem is reversed; we have more than enough educated people to stifle a brain drain, but the United States’ largest corporations (Google, Facebook, Intel etc.) cause significant stressors on developing countries by recruiting cheap yet promising candidates for less pay.

Nader goes on to point to how the U.S. Senate has nearly doubled the number of H1-B visas for these workers, and these workers are often paid in the bottom quartile of the wage scale for their jobs.  This, in turn, devastates developing countries that rely on these innovators to make economic and technological progress, and removes jobs for young U.S. educated students, creating a perceived brain drain among our graduates. My solution would be to create a tax burden for corporations employing workers on these visas for more than somewhere between 5-10 years depending on the industry.  This would allow “human capital” to return to their home country after limited, yet invaluable, experience in the U.S. workplace.  Further, it would ideally encourage many U.S. students to stay in academia longer and contribute more to public research before looking to leave for private industry jobs, so they would not competing directly with H1-B visa students for jobs.