As emerging powers like China are seeking to strengthen innovation-driven growth and focus on the production of value-added goods, they are increasingly trying to emulate the United States’ unique capacity to attract foreign talent. Indeed, the competition for high-end talent is set to become a major international battleground as nations around the world try to avoid being left behind as eternal commodity providers, unable to achieve long-term growth.
A brief look at the statistics shows the massive impact immigrants have on the US economy’s capacity to innovate and generate jobs: Some 40% of Fortune 500 firms were founded by immigrants or their children. So were the firms behind seven of the ten most valuable brands in the world. Although the foreign-born are only an eighth of the US population, a quarter of high-tech start-ups have an immigrant founder. Apple, Google, AT&T, Budweiser, Colgate, eBay, General Electric, IBM, McDonalds, owe their origin to a founder who was an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, is a child of an immigrant parent from Syria. Walt Disney also was the child of an immigrant (from Canada), as well as the founders of Oracle (Russia and Iran), IBM (Germany), Clorox (Ireland), Boeing (Germany) 3M (Canada) and Home Depot (Russia).
As The Economist writes,
High-tech firms such as Google (whose co-founder Sergey Brin moved to America from Russia as a child) haven’t just created jobs for their own workers. They have also inspired the creation of entirely new categories of job. A few years ago no one earned a living as a mobile-app developer. Now they are everywhere. It is not just full-time workers who benefit: firms such as oDesk, a Silicon Valley outfit founded by two Greeks, are nurturing an online freelance economy that is in its infancy. Last year Americans using oDesk’s platform found over 2 million hours of freelance work.