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Highly skilled immigrants grow US firms abroad

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The Washington Post Wonkblog is reporting a new study from Harvard Business School which shows that not only do highly skilled immigrants help bolster the US economy, they also help drive growth of US companies abroad in the immigrant's home Country.

In a paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, C. Fritz Foley and William R. Kerr of Harvard examined the economic benefits of immigrants who were granted patents in the US between 1975 and 2008.

"They conclude that greater numbers of immigrant inventors will boost a US companys performance in those immigrants' respective native countries," Wonkblog article author Suzy Khimm wrote.

According to Foley and Kerr, their research indicated that "increases in the share of a firms innovation performed by inventors of a particular ethnicity are associated with increases in the share of that firms affiliate activity in their native countries."

"Beyond language skills, well-educated immigrants typically possess specialized knowledge about how to conduct business in their home countries. They are likely to have a strong understanding of customer behavior there and to have insights about what kinds of products would succeed. Furthermore, high-skilled immigrants often also have relationships and are part of networks that can facilitate foreign market access," they concluded.

According to Khimm, this is why some members of the US government are pushing for more high-skilled immigration to the US.

If highly skilled immigration gets a boost from the US government, it will be a huge change in the country's attitude towards immigration. Historically, economic immigration in the US has been quite difficult.