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Tuck’s Slaughter on Skilled Immigrants

The more we read about Tuck Dean Matt Slaughter, the more he impresses. His new report on America’s need for more highly skilled immigrants is both thoughtful and relevant, so much so that U.S. News dedicated serious space to it the day before yesterday:

Slaughter H-1B US News Comp.jpg

Here is the heart of his argument:

Rigid policies restricting skilled immigration are hurting U.S. job growth while costing domestic companies thousands of dollars per worker, a new report from a Dartmouth College professor shows.

Matthew Slaughter, dean of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and a former member of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, on Wednesday will unveil the findings of his new report at the National Press Club in Washington. The white paper, provided to U.S. News ahead of the event, suggests existing H-1B visa regulations are limiting productivity growth in the U.S. and costing American firms a fortune…

“The key thing to understand about high-skill immigration is that they make the economic pie bigger because of the talents that they bring. It’s not a matter of adding people to a fixed supply of jobs,” Slaughter says. “Whether they’re U.S.-born or foreign-born, innovative workers drive productivity growth and grow the economy.”

It’s worth noting that H-1B holders themselves can’t start new companies in the U.S., though some go on to create new startups or work in high-profile U.S. companies, employing thousands of domestic workers and other H-1B holders once they become naturalized. Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella are both former visa holders, for example.

On the other hand, Kunal Bahl, who ended up founding Snapdeal - India’s e-commerce equivalent, which now stands as one of the country’s most valuable companies - graduated with a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 2007 and wanted to obtain a visa to stay in the U.S. He couldn’t and was forced to go back to India, where he later founded a company that is now flourishing.

Slaughter’s paper ultimately suggests a more open H-1B system - or at least a higher visa cap - would help the U.S. economy generate new opportunities for domestic workers while avoiding the loss of billion-dollar companies like Snapdeal. Future legislation should aim to “reduce, not increase, the cost to companies in America of hiring skilled immigrant workers,” he says.

“Whether you’re a Republican, independent, Democrat - what people across all parts of the political spectrum are worried about is whether we’re creating enough good jobs and good wages in the U.S.,” Slaughter says. “And skilled foreign nationals have long made outsized contributions to the growth of new ideas and new companies and new industries in the U.S.”

Geez. One wonders if the College should institute need-blind admissions for international students in order to attract the finest young scholars in the world to the College. Nah. That makes no sense.


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