National Data | If We Need Immigrant PhDs, Why Are American PhDs Poor And Unemployed?
“If those who most oppose immigration had succeeded over the past two decades, two-thirds of the most outstanding future scientists and mathematicians in the United States would not be in the country…” [Stuart Anderson, “The Multiplier Effect,” Summer 2004, International Educator,
Anderson`s “evidence” is amazingly thin, mere factoids like “Seven of the top 10 award winners of the Intel Science Talent Search in 2004 were immigrants or their children.”
- The number science Ph.D.s awarded to U.S. citizens rose from 11,408 in 1987 to 13,672 in 1998.
- But in 2002 (latest year of data), only 12,423 U.S. citizens received a Ph.D. in science
- The number of engineering PhDs. awarded to U.S. citizens rose from 1,887 in 1987 to 3,516 in 1996.
- But in 2002, only 1,890 engineering Ph.D.s were awarded to U.S. citizens
And non-U.S. citizens have certainly garnered an increasing share of advanced degrees:
- Non-citizens received 32 percent of all science Ph.D.s awarded in 2002, up from 24 percent in 1987
- Non-citizens received 61 percent of engineering Ph.D.s awarded in 2002, up from 55 percent in 1987
According to a National Research Council study: [National Research Council, Building a Workforce for the Information Economy, National Academies Press, 2001.]
- A Ph.D. in science causes a net loss in lifetime earnings for an American
- Income foregone during a 5-year doctoral program exceeds the additional income received over the course of a native-born graduate`s working lifetime
The National Science Foundation explicitly acknowledges the problem, saying that for American students “the effective premium for acquiring a Ph.D may actually be negative.”
Yet, paradoxically, NSF makes matters worse by advocating special programs to increase the number of foreign doctoral students.
The perception of a high-tech labor “shortage” is firmly entrenched and drives much immigration policy.
But if such a shortage were real, unemployment in science and engineering fields would be declining. And exactly the opposite is happening [Table 2]:
- Unemployment among college-educated science and engineering personnel is at a 20-year high (3.9 percent in 2002, the latest year of data.)
- Unemployment among computer programmers is also at a 20-year high (6.5 percent). It has risen 4-fold since 2000
These unemployment rates understate the problem. They do not count people with science and engineering degrees who`ve left the field involuntarily for other jobs. NSF data indicate about three-quarters of science degree holders eventually end up in non-science occupations.
But only an immigration enthusiast would argue that it`s moral.
[Number fans click here for tables.]