Immigration Matters

Written by: Daniel J. McCarthy

Hammer and Silicon

Immigration is, needless to say, a very hot topic in today’s charged political climate. Still, little attention has been paid in the popular press to immigration of highly educated technological professionals. One quick fact is that around two-thirds of the professionals working in Silicon Valley are foreign born. Another is that in 2017, just over half of US private startups valued at $1 billion or more, the so-called Unicorns, were started by immigrants, and another is that 31 percent of all venture-backed founders were immigrants. Yet many such talented people are now being denied such opportunities in the US by current immigration policies. The end result could well be the loss by the US of global innovation leadership which for decades has been the driver of overall economic success. China should be delighted at our short-sighted approach to immigration.

Our book focuses on the linkage between immigration and technology, but others have also noted the issue emphasized here. William Kerr of Stanford University, for instance, recently noted that “… the United States has received exceptional inflows of human capital. This foreign talent has transformed U.S. science and engineering, reshaped the economy, and influenced society at large. But America is bogged down in thorny debates on immigration policy, and the world around the United States is rapidly catching up.”

These are all reasons why so many tech business leaders are advocating for more enlightened immigration policy. These include recently formed organizations like FWD.us founded by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, as well as the Partnership for a New American Economy whose founders include former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, and also the Business Roundtable headed by Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase. Our book, Hammer and Silicon, is a testimony to the realities that immigration matters for continued leadership in innovation for the US.


by Sheila M. Puffer , Daniel J. McCarthy , Daniel M. Satinsky

by Sheila M. Puffer , Daniel J. McCarthy , Daniel M. Satinsky

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About the Author: Daniel J. McCarthy

Daniel J. McCarthy is University Distinguished Professor and the Alan S. McKim and Richard A. D'Amore Distinguished Professor of Global Management and Innovation at the D'Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University, Boston. He is also an Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. He has over 11...

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