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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

EU Emigration to the U.S. - Low Numbers, High Impact

I just finished reading a very interesting paper, published by the Migration Policy Institute and funded by the European Union, entitled Scientists, Managers, and Tourists: The Changing Shape of European Mobility to the United States by Xiaochu Hu and Madeleine Sumption.  This is a good inquiry into current European immigration to the United States today.  While the numbers have greatly diminished since the 19th and 20th centuries, Europeans still make up about 10% of all immigrants to the U.S.

So, according to this report, who are the European emigrants to the U.S. in the early 21st century?

Let's just call them "The Well-Educated Professionals" who tend to work in skilled professions (science, math and technology, for example) and as managers and executives.   They are, in fact, the best educated immigrant group in the U.S. and their academic credentials surpass those of native-born Americans.
"Thirty-three percent of EU immigrants have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 28 percent of people born in the United States and 26 percent of immigrants not from the European Union. PhD holders make up 3.5 percent of EU immigrants, compared to 1.7 percent of the non-EU immigrant population and about 1 percent of the US born population."
In the workforce, "EU immigrants make up 4 percent of life and physical scientists; 3 percent of engineers, architects, and surveyors; and 3 percent of social scientists, despite constituting only 1.2 percent of the US population... These trends differ somewhat by sending country: UK-born immigrants, for example, are particularly concentrated in executive and managerial work, while French immigrants dominate in teaching-related professions and the social sciences."

The work situation is even more favorable for EU immigrants as the result of bi-lateral social security agreements between the U.S. and 17 EU states.  Under these agreements a French or German who has worked in the U.S. can actually get credit toward government-sponsored retirement pension programs either in the U.S. or the home country.  This is also true of American citizens working in some EU countries.  I found this U.S. government website which outlines the Totalization Agreement that the U.S. has with France.

Interestingly enough, even the financial crisis did not really put a dent in the number of work visas issued to highly qualified Europeans.  “Extraordinary ability” (O-1 visa) issuances increased by almost 30 percent for German and French nationals, for example, and by 38 percent for Spaniards between 2007 and 2009."

Finally, Europeans are more likely than other immigrant groups to become naturalized in the U.S.  A whopping 60 percent of immigrants from the EU become naturalized American citizens as opposed to 40 percent of immigrants from other parts of the world.

This is a marvelous situation for the United States but I think it is fair to ask the question: Is this equally good for Europe?  I think it is.  When people move around they take their brains, experiences and talents with them.  Since many European immigrants do return to their countries of origin, Europe benefits from this "brain circulation."  I would imagine quite a few dual US/EU citizens are created from this exchange and through the inevitable bi-cultural marriages and families.  And let's not forget all the friends, colleagues and connections that an individual gains over a lifetime traipsing back and forth across the Atlantic.  You may disagree but I personally am 100% for any peaceful method that makes this world more connected.   


Anonymous said...

Bonjour, Comment allez vous?
Your blog always interests me since I am a Japanese guy working in Europe, please let me keep my country name secret, and lived in US when I was a small child.
Though many Americans have their roots in Europe I thought now not many Europeans move to US because of US's tough immigration this article was surprising.
And I am interested in Blue Card, actually I am going to ask details about it to the immigration office in residing country this week, thus I will share info with you if I can get then.
Merci beaucoup!

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Thank you so much for your comment and your kind words about the blog. Made my day.

I too was a bit surprised by the MPI report and I learned quite a lot - the retirement agreements, for example. I had no idea they were that extensive.

Good luck for the EU Blue Card. I'd be thrilled if you would report back what you find out and I think a lot of other people would be interested as well.

Bon weekend!