America’s Competitive Advantage

As an advocate for entrepreneurship, in late 2005 I was asked by a friend to write an article about my thoughts on entrepreneurship and immigration policy.  Researching that article I cam across some very interesting statistics on the productivity of foreign-born entrepreneurs, the United States dependence on foreign minds and the most surprising, that during the 1990s, more than 50% of start-up companies in silicon valley were started by foreign-born nationals.  In a nutshell, America’s competitive advantage is its ability to attract foreign entrepreneurs and innovators.

Last week NBC picked up on some new research highlighting the negative impact of entrepreneurs leaving the United States because of H1B visa expiration – even though they want to stay in the US, they are well-educated and they are creating jobs in the United States.

What is most surprising is that although there is now so much data, much of it supported by the Kauffman Foundation, there has been so little change in economic policy.  The facts speak for themselves.

  • It is estimated that between 67% and 100% of job creation occurs at the start-up and small business level.
  • Immigrants to US are more entrepreneurial that native born citizens. (Kauffman)
  • 50% of start-up companies in silicon valley started by foreign born citizens.

with the recession and now weak job creation maybe the environment is finally ripe for the economic development policies to begin to shift back towards innovation, job creation and wealth creation vs. protecting old industries and wealth preservation.

Additional resources on the topic:

  • Robert W. Fairlie (Associate Professor of Economics and Director of the Master’s Program in Applied Economics and Finance at the University of California, Santa Cruz) “Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity”, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, October 2005.
  • “Fatal Flows – Doctors on the Move”, Lincoln C. Chen, M.D., and Jo Ivey Boufford, M.D. New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 353:1850-1852, October 27 th , 2005 , Number 17.
  • Council on Graduate Medical Education. Physician workforce policy guidelines for the United States, 2000-2020. (Accessed October 6, 2005 , at

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