Is America Facing a Future Brain Drain?

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International Students are critical to US R&D

In the past three decades foreign graduate students have played an increasingly important role in theoretical and applied research in the United States. In 1966, 78% of PhD recipients in science and engineering (S&E) were American citizens. By 2003, that percentage had dropped to 62% for science disciplines and to 41% for engineering (Freeman et al., 2004). Despite this trend, US-based research and development (R&D) institutions have not suffered in their competitiveness or quality relative to their global counterparts thanks to the tendency of foreign born graduates to stay in the US after completion of their studies. This effective ‘brain gain’ from other nations’ intellectual capital has been widely recognized as one of America’s chief strategic and economic advantages (National Research Council, 2005).

Conjoint Analysis:
Modeling the Decision to Return or Stay

Our project uses conjoint analysis, a survey tool first employed in marketing, to present foreign-born PhD students and postdocs with a series of job offers that vary according to different factors that comprise career opportunity and quality of life.We use these responses to determine how important each factor listed below is in shaping an individual's decision to stay in the US or return home.

Annual Income: Base Salary + Guaranteed bonus and allowances

Location: Nation,region, and city size of where the job is located

Private/Public+ Job title and responsibility

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Completed survey of 150 PhD students at University of Illinois-Champaigne

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