Richard Florida was one of my professors in grad school. He was an adviser to a couple of projects that I loved working on and he served as one of my early job references. I think his Creative Class work is interesting despite significant causality concerns of the chicken and egg and its inability to really speak to distributional issues within regions.
The core insight that powers his work is that it is wise to pay a lot of attention to where people with lots of choices end up and concentrate. He focuses a lot on younger people who are heavily educated and who have weak ties to their home geographic area. This is because these individuals can move fairly cheaply and fairly broadly. A twenty seven year old with no kids and no mortgage is far more mobile than a forty three year old with two kids and seventeen years left on their mortgage. This is a really smart insight. Where it goes from there may be another story (bike paths might not save us all).
Why is this important?
Immigration ban and the fear they create is a giant tax on US universities and US innovation…research and R&D will move abroad
— Amitabh Chandra (@amitabhchandra2) January 29, 2017
We’re much less attractive as a country to very smart, mobile international students and researchers this week than we were last week. And I bet that we’ll be less attractive next week than this week. Think about the incentive for a twenty something looking to do a post-doc? They could come here and work with an awesome group but when they need to travel to a conference overseas they might not be allowed back into the country? Or they could go to Canada or Japan or Australia or the EU where they don’t have that new worry as a cost to their calculus of choice.
Will this stop all international brain drain that the US massively benefits from? No, but it will impede it.