The Accelerating Decline in America's High-Skilled Workforce: Implications for Immigration Policy

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The Accelerating Decline in America's High-Skilled Workforce: Implications for Immigration Policy

By Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
Peterson Institute for International Economics, 2007
132 pp. $18.95
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Remarkably and puzzlingly, young American adults today have no higher educational attainment than their parents, breaking a centurylong trend. Other countries, in contrast, show a continuing rise in educational attainment, such that young adults in at least eight other rich countries, plus Russia, now show a higher average educational attainment than do Americans. Kirkegaard concludes from his analysis of such trends that if the United States wants to retain its preeminent technological position in the world, it needs to revamp significantly its immigration policy toward high-skilled individuals, as several other countries have already done. He judges that a wholesale overhaul of U.S. immigration policy, which is still based overwhelmingly on family unification, is politically unrealistic, however desirable it may be. He proposes a number of relatively modest changes, along with changes in visa policies toward temporary high-skilled workers, and provides a cogent analysis of an unnecessarily complex, expensive, and incoherent system.

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