Arnold Kling  

European Scientists and America

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Ethics as Infrastructure... Finance and Macroeconomics...

Do European elites hate America? Not if you judge on the basis of revealed preference. According to Time,


No amount of funding can buy a culture of competitiveness. And if researchers don't see opportunities for reward, they'll take their talent to the States, where innovation and hard work are rewarded with generous grants, full credit and a financial stake in your work. "The U.S. has an entrepreneurial culture," says Finnish molecular biologist Erkki Ruoslahti, who moved to the U.S. in the 1970s and helped build San Diego's Burnham Institute into a top medical-research facility. "People tend to be more enterprising — because they have to be. Otherwise, they're out of business."

For Discussion. Should we be upset that European scientists are coming here to take American jobs?


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CATEGORIES: Revealed Preference



COMMENTS (33 to date)
Eric Krieg writes:

Yeah, where the hell is Steve lately?

Nick Schulz writes:

A friend of mine who recently finished his PHD in economics from NYU had some interesting observations about European elites and anti-Americanism. There were many Europeans in his program and anti-Americanism was common among them. I asked him how this could be so: here they were coming to the US and receiving top-flite graduate education and yet they hated America. 'Why the seeming disconnect?' I wondered.

He said that it was simple. ALL of the European students knew that if they wanted to get to the top of their field (not just for economics but for almost any other serious academic discipline) they had NO CHOICE but to come to the United States. For whatever reason, this fact of life prompts a significant amount of resentment among European elites. Perhaps it is because they all have a strong sense of the importance of European intellectuals and European intellectual institutions in history. But the fact is today the United States is home to the most important elite intellectual institutions. And this, apparently, drives intelligent Europeans crazy.

Eric Krieg writes:

The success and dynamism of America drives American elites crazy, too. I mean, it is one thing to hate America from afar. It is another to live here, with a wonderful, rewarding life as a college professor on a beautiful liberal arts school campus, a life you could have in probably no other nation, and still hate America.

Burt writes:

Huh? I know guys who sit on barstools all day who hate aAmerica, too. That comment just strikes me as uh, elitist itself.

Robert Monical writes:

"Should we be upset that European scientists are coming here to take American jobs?"

Well no, successful entrepreneurs create more jobs than they displace. No, wait, jobs and business are solely determined by broad historical trends and macroeconomic policy. So they cannot possibly “create” additional wealth; it is all an illusion; send them home!!!!

Lawrance George Lux writes:

I do not fear European or other foreign Scientists as threat to American Jobs. I do fear the loss of Employment for the basic manufacturing and Trade skills coming from outsourcing of Production. No Economy can survive as an Elitist Employer. It is not provision of trained Elitist labor which We need, but provision of funding for the total Labor force, so they can purchase the products of the Economy. lgl

Brad Hutchings writes:

If they bring their daughters, it's all good.

-Brad

Bob writes:

Or their wives! But only if they shave ;P

David Thomson writes:

I am thrilled whenever the United States attracts educated immigrants. We must continue to encourage them to come here. I just think it’s hysterically funny that so many of them express anti-American sentiments. Oh well, they likely will get over it in a few years---when they opt to become citizens!

I always like to say "Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery"

Eric Krieg writes:

The US could easily create an economic policy to encourage corporations and individuals to relocate here.

Ireland did it by cutting their corporate income tax rate to 12.5%. The US could do it by eliminating the corporate income tax entirely.

Cutting the top individual income tax rate to something more reasonable (I was always happy with the 28% rate) might do the same thing for individuals.

Eric Krieg writes:

>>Should we be upset that European scientists are coming here to take American jobs?

I bet that there are American scientists who are upset, who feel that their wages are being suppressed.

Chris writes:

> I bet that there are American scientists who are upset,
> who feel that their wages are being suppressed.


No, there are literally no American scientists who feel this way. What they want is to have more funding for everyone, and abundant tenured positions for everybody. It's a bit of a fantasy, but everyone recognizes that American science runs on foreign talent.

Eric Krieg writes:

>>everyone recognizes that American science runs on foreign talent.

God knows that is true. American primary education (or lack of it) ensures that.

There aren't ANY scientists sore about H1B visas? I find that hard to believe. But then, a lot of scientists are academics, and maybe don't view H1B visa recipeints in the same way as, say, computer programmers (where IS Steve these days?).

Chris writes:

> There aren't ANY scientists sore about H1B visas?

As far as I can tell, no. And I know a lot of scientists (of course 60% of them are foreigners). It's not like what I hear from computer programmers on the web at all. I think this is because American scientists know that they still have an edge in getting tenure-track faculty positions or other desirable posts compared to the foreign postdocs who make up 50% of the labor force in molecular biology and biochemistry. Their visas are very limited and they have an incredibly hard time getting green cards. They want green cards more than they want papers in Nature or Cell.

David Thomson writes:

"I always like to say "Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery""

That's a good one. Indeed, actions speak louder than words.

Boonton writes:
>>everyone recognizes that American science runs on foreign talent. God knows that is true. American primary education (or lack of it) ensures that.

Or is it simply that the US is the best place to be if your a scientist. Since the US only has a fraction of the world's population, one would expect many of the best scientists here to be foreigners....even if the US's education system was equal to the rest of the world.

Eric Krieg writes:

>>Since the US only has a fraction of the world's population, one would expect many of the best scientists here to be foreigners....even if the US's education system was equal to the rest of the world.

There are 2 or 3 issues burried in there.

Arnold's post references information that the US economy is drawing scientists like moths to a flame.

The second issue is the high quality of US universities compared to the rest of the world. That in and of itself is drawing scientists, both to get trained as well as to work.

I don't dispute either of those points.

The third point is to question if the US is itself producing enough scientists. You can question what "enough" means. But we are not graduating as many people with degrees in science as we used to, and that, to me, is evidence of there not being enough scientists.

I think that the major reason is that, going into college, kids don't have a strong science background. If you don't have a strong science background from your priamry education, you will not major in science in college.

Bernard Yomtov writes:

I don't think "European elites" hate America. I think any statement we make about "European elites" is an overgeneralization, unless we just say they are European.

I think we Americans are a little too sensitive to criticism from abroad. I find that when foreigners comment critically on some aspect of the US there is a real tendenecy to regard them as anti-American, rather than just as someone with an opinion on some specific matter.

And to answer Arnold's question, of course we shouldn't be upset. We should be delighted at the influx of scientists and do all we can to encourage it, including making permanent residency and, ultimately, citizenship, easier to obtain.

Rakesh writes:

It may just be that the avergae INdian/Chinam/Euorpan is just smartr than you'r average Joe aAmericna. Which is fine. It the ruthless one's you hae to worrry abowt.

Americans, who have long celebrated the sweetness of dynamic capitalism, must get used to the concept that it works for non-Americans, too... Isn't the emergence of a vibrant middle class in an otherwise poor country a spectacular achievement, the very confirmation of the wonders of globalization - not to mention a new market for American goods and services? And if this transition pinches a little, aren't Americans being a tad hypocritical by whining about it?
besides the 'creative class' supposedly what come next after 'knowledge worker' is already leaving.

AJE writes:

Lets acknowledge two issues, which may not be related
1. many europeans have a real problem with the 'George W Bush' america.
2. due to lack of funding, the rewards for an academic career in the States is far greater than in europe.

hence, as an englishman, without hypocrasy, i can live work and earn my salary in the US, yet retain my grievences!

Eric Krieg writes:

>>It may just be that the avergae INdian/Chinam/Euorpan is just smartr than you'r average Joe aAmericna.

Whew! That's a troll!

I don't know about the Indians, but the Chinese, being East Asians, have higher average IQs than the average American. So, yes, the average Chinese is smarter than the average American, if you believe that IQ means anything.

Eric Krieg writes:

>>1. many europeans have a real problem with the 'George W Bush' america.

Many Americans have trouble with Dubya's America too. THEY'RE CALLED DEMOCRATS!

From my experience, what Democrats believe and what Europeans believe are identical.

I wish that Euro academics in America would acknowledge that the American academic sysytem isn't superior because it has higher funding (although it does). It is superior because it is not state controlled.

We could spend A LOT less than we do on our colleges and universities and STILL provide a better education than the Euros do.

Lawrance George Lux writes:

Most Scientists go where there is the best research facilities, most often the arena of best salaries as well. The actual immigration has more to do with American academic pretensions, than it has to do with European desire to move to America. American academia must have its mixed bag of professors. I remember taking Calculus from a Korean who could not speak English. lgl

Monte writes:

Seems like a pretty good trade-off to me. The benefits we could potentially reap at the cost of sacrificing a few American jobs to European scientists are enormous. What difference should it make who keeps the U.S. at the cutting edge as long as we remain there?

Boonton writes:
The third point is to question if the US is itself producing enough scientists. You can question what "enough" means. But we are not graduating as many people with degrees in science as we used to, and that, to me, is evidence of there not being enough scientists.

Are you sure about this? Certainly we are graduating more computer science majors than we were 30-50 years ago. I don't have any hard numbers on other sciences but I would imagine we are producing as many degrees as before...even if the percentages are slipping the fact that so many more go to college now than before would make up for the shift in majors.

Bernard Yomtov writes:

"the American academic sysytem isn't superior because it has higher funding (although it does). It is superior because it is not state controlled."

What have you been reading now?

The vast majority of American universities, measured by enrollment, are in fact state universities. These include some of our top research schools. I would go so far as to say that our higher education system is a good example of a very successful government program.

Even the private schools are heavily government subsidized. Research grants provide a big piece of their funding, and the availability of various kinds of federal financial aid for students probably helps support tuition levels to some degree.

It's not exactly an example of the virtues of buccaneering private enterprise.

Eric Krieg writes:

>>It's not exactly an example of the virtues of buccaneering private enterprise.

Take a look at how British and French universities are structured. Our system is no where near as centralized and politicised as those two.

We also have a much higher proportion of private universites.

You can read all about it in this week's Economist.

Eric Krieg writes:

>>the availability of various kinds of federal financial aid for students probably helps support tuition levels to some degree.

"Support" in what way? Tuition would be higher if not for the feds? Or tuition is kept high by the subsidy?

I would think the later. I would love for some politician to propose price controls for college tuition, just to give academics a taste of their own medicine.

Ray writes:

Free markets versus restricted markets and as screwed up as we are, we’re still the best game in town. Simple as that; so that huge sucking sound you hear is actually a large brain drain emptying its contents on our shores . Nothing to be upset about.

That was pretty much a softball of a question Arnold. I think he’s trying to bait the handful of socialists that come here so we can have ourselves a little shooting gallery.

I was making note the other day that every European I’ve personally encountered here in the states, that spent at least the first 20 years of their lives on the Continent, is a dyed in the wool collectivist.

Socialist is too narrow of a term so I opt for collectivist. They still think that Germany (or whatever Old-World backwater they hail from) has the highest standard of living and that America should adopt all of these various European practices and so on. All the while growing fat on our capitalist free market.

The typical conversation goes something like; “Germany has the highest standard of living” (incredulous look from me – so they continue) “Oh, I know the unemployment is 10% but, blah blah blah.”

And for Englishman poster AJE;

You are both a hypocrite and a simpleton. Anti-American sentiment goes much further back than George W and as smug as you may try and feel about your own situation, actions truly speak louder than words. Complaining about the system of which you prefer only marks you as a person of very limited understanding and questionable powers of reason, regardless of what you care to acknowledge.

So excuse us if we dismiss you as a crackpot.

Hi, Ray.

You remarked:

That was pretty much a softball of a question Arnold. I think he’s trying to bait the handful of socialists that come here so we can have ourselves a little shooting gallery.

Actually, EconLog's policy is to welcome and encourage discussion and debate for the purposes of education and broader understandings for all. We discourage personal attacks and name-calling, and we hope our commenters will set high standards by emphasizing the content of other contributors' arguments.

Taking off my Editor's hat for the moment, I personally thought AJE's comment

hence, as an englishman, without hypocrasy, i can live work and earn my salary in the US, yet retain my grievences!

illustrated AJE's sophisticated sense of humor. I thought it was a charming observation about how the practical decisions we make in our lives based on the various pros and cons we face, result concommitantly in consequences which we then both enjoy and endure.

Lauren
Editor
Library of Economics and Liberty

AJE writes:

Ray - not so. My point is that a national economic structure is complex and inconsistant. Whilst the US academic system is superior to the current British one, this does not mean that in order to benefit from it I lose my right to an opinion on related matters.
I think that most US immigrants would resent the implication that we do not have the right to criticise the system.
Since most academic positions are the result of voluntary contract, is it 'hypocritical' of my uni to expect me to turn up to class sober?or to have an opinion of my working habits? Clearly academics and institutions benefit each other, and will continue to do so on a foundation of inquiry and debate. This is an American quality, and why I am here!

Jolan True writes:

I hate my kitchen, I barely have enough work space to cut a slice of bread, there are only two cupboards and the gas nozzles in the oven have an annoying tendency to get clogged up.

Still the accommodation provided by the rest of my apartment is superb and the rent is amazingly cheap given my location, result? I wouldn't want to live anywhere else

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