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Brain Drain, Talent Magnets And The Global Battle For The Best And Brightest

Analysis: The U.S., Europe and Asia all must keep the relationship between population and productivity at the center of social and economic policy. Education is key, but so too are efforts to commit to the long-term well-being of qualified immigrants.

Stanford University in California attracts students from around the world (maveric2003)
Stanford University in California attracts students from around the world (maveric2003)


BERLIN - Education is in need of an overhaul in Germany and Europe in general, and because of that, many of the top job performers are being recruited from other parts of the planet. Deutsche Bank, for example, recruited its new CEO, Anshu Jain, in the United States. Except Jain is actually from India, as is the CEO of Citgroup, Vikram Pandit; the dean of Harvard Business school, Nitin Nohria; and the U.S. attorney for New York's Southern District, Preet Bharara.

Clearly, North America faces a similar situation. There, children from middle and upper-class families have plenty of material advantages. And yet they fare relatively poorly on standardized aptitude tests like the SAT. To redress the situation, the United States doubled spending for education between 2001 and 2010. Test scores, however, hardly improved. The only exceptions to the rule were Asian students.

The fight for job talent in the 60 countries with fewer than 1.8 children per woman is thus particularly fierce, and the fact that birth rates are likely to remain low will only intensify the competition. The United States has to take the strongest offensive, even though mothers there raise two kids on average. The reason is that, for the first time in 2011, 50% of newborn children were black or Hispanic, groups that are both over-represented among the 46.2 million Americans on government aid.

Already now, 17-year-olds from these two groups have the academic levels of white 13-year-olds, and of even younger Asian students, according to National Assessment of Educational Progress figures. So if top world brains don't emigrate to the States, the country won't be able to pay its debts. A Harvard Business School study has shown that, contrary to popular belief, American industry is moving abroad not to take advantage of lower labor costs, but because foreign workers are better qualified.

Other Western countries that will need to rely on immigrants will fail if they can't counter a major U.S. recruitment offensive. The Americans are currently looking at the possibility of automatic citizenship for all graduate students who pass American university entrance exams in natural sciences and engineering.

Citizenship would be combined with old-age insurance, which would be forfeited if the person left the country. One thing applies to all 60 of the countries with aging populations: they will only be able to keep new citizens when today's salary is on target and tomorrow's golden years are acceptably provided for. Thus China (where average age is 34) isn't spared: 46% of Chinese millionaires emigrate, for example, to North America.

As for Europe, it has to pull up its socks, because the only leading countries that will survive are those that manage to produce and attract top talent. Until then, nations are going to go on cannibalizing each other.

Read the full story in German by Gunnar Heinsohn.

Photo: Maveric2003

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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What To Do With The Complainers In Your Life — Advice From A South American Shrink

Argentines love to complain. But when you listen to others who complain, there are options: must we be a sponge to this daily toxicity or should we, politely, block out this act of emotional vandalism?

Photo of two men talking while sitting at a table at a bar un Buenos Aires, with a poster of Maradona on the wall behind them.

Talking in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Martín Reynoso*

BUENOS AIRESArgentina: the land of complainers. Whether sitting in a taxi, entering a shop or attending a family dinner, you won't escape the litany of whingeing over what's wrong with the country, what's not working and above all, what we need!

We're in an uneasy period of political change and economic adjustments, and our anxious hopes for new and better leaders are a perfect context for this venting, purging exercise.

Certain people have a strangely stable, continuous pattern of complaining: like a lifestyle choice. Others do it in particular situations or contexts. But what if we are at the receiving end? I am surprised at how complaints, even as they begin to be uttered and before they are fully formulated, can disarm and turn us into weak-willed accomplices. Do we have an intrinsic need to empathize, or do we agree because we too are dissatisfied with life?

Certainly, agreeing with a moaner may strengthen our social or human bonds, especially if we happen to share ideas or political views. We feel part of something bigger. Often it must seem easier to confront reality, which can be daunting, with this type of "class action" than face it alone.

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