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CHAPTE R The Foreign Postdoctoral From the point of view of research productivity, the question of the nationality of the investigator is irrelevant. The important question is "Can he contribute?" The answer depends on the previous training and research record of the individual, on his motivation and persistence, on his ability to work effectively with the other members of the research group, and, of course, on his native ability. It is possible in the first approximation to attrib- ute national characteristics to the style of education, to the mode and breadth of research activities, and to the cultural attributes that describe personality and drive, but these are the components of a stereotype and are particularly inappropriate when one is looking for the creative researcher. From the point of view of research in the American setting, which is sup- ported mainly by tax funds and often directed toward problems arising from the American national desires, the nationality of the investigator may raise questions with political overtones. If we restrict ourselves to postdoctoral re- search, those questions take the following forms: Are American scientists being displaced from postdoctoral positions by foreigners? Is the foreign scientist being exploited by being paid a lower salary than his American counterpart for comparable work? Is the foreign scientist merely doing our research for us, or is he being pre- pared for a position in his home country? 205
206 THE FOREIGN POSTDOCTORAL If the foreign scientist returns to his home country, have we lost in salary and research expenses more than we received in research accomplished? If the foreign scientist wishes to stay in the United States, what is our responsibility to his home country? It is difficult to answer these questions, due to the policy vacuum in which they are posed and in which postdoctoral study in general is supported. Except in the specific fellowship and traineeship programs (many of which exclude foreign participation), postdoctoral s are essentially "hired hands" as far as the supporting agency is concerned. Although some programs of some agencies ask for names and credentials of postdoctoral s supported on research grants and contracts, the majority of programs provide the necessary funds on the basis of the judgment of the agency as to what the most efficient level of effort will be for the proposed research. The professor is given a "hunting license," i.e., the funds to pay for an as yet unspecified postdoctoral. The decision on the identity of the postdoctoral is made locally by the faculty member with what- ever review is provided by his departmental colleagues or the university admin- istration. There is no federal policy or national consensus among the universi- ties regarding the nature of the appointment except that it is to assist the research effort. Since 81 percent of the foreign postdoctorals in the physical sciences and 68 percent of those in the biological sciences are supported from research grants, this lack of policy is particularly pertinent to the questions raised above. If the purpose of postdoctoral appointments is solely to make the research more efficient (and this is the argument made especially by the mission- oriented agencies), a professor would be derelict if he did not seek the best assistance he could find for the money. If it is possible to hire a more experi- enced foreign scientist for the same salary he would have to pay an inexperi- enced American PhD,1 then he would be prudent to do so. The reasons that may prompt the foreign scientist to take the position, the training experience that may be present in the postdoctoral appointment, and the relevance of the research for the country from which the scientist comes are deemed not to be the responsibility of the agency program officer. The congressional man- date is to procure research to fulfill the mission of the agency. In some cases the language of the enabling legislation explicitly excludes training as an allowable expenditure. That training takes place is, officially, serendipitous; if the appointment is structured to enhance the training at the expense of efficiency, the procedure is probably illegal. Training does occur, however, and at the time of our census of postdoctor- als almost 5,000 foreign scientists were enjoying the experience.2 Although 1 See Chapter 9. 2 Because of the large foreign component of the postdoctoral population, many of the tables in previous chapters of this report have presented data for U. S. citizens and for-
207 IMPACT ON U.S. UNIVERSITIES not as a matter of national policy and not integrated with other forms of foreign assistance, the United States was in fact supporting a major fraction of this group. Unlike most foreign aid, the money was almost always spent in this country and did not contribute to the gold drain, but the long-range inter- national implications of this activity are likely to be great. Through postdoc- toral study in this country, the scientific leadership of many parts of the world has gained (or will have gained) intimate knowledge not only of our science but of our society. In addition we have gained whatever research contribution foreign postdoctoral s may have made while they were here. Perhaps each question raised at the beginning of this chapter really has no one answer. Since each participant-postdoctoral, mentor and agency officer- is permitted to define the purposes from his own point of view, one must also ask him to answer the questions from his point of view. The foreign postdoc- toral is looking for training or at least experience in American laboratories. The agency program officer is purchasing research. The faculty mentor is caught in the middle, with little in the way of administrative guidelines. Impact on United States Universities Approximately 55 percent of post-PhD's and 40 percent of postprofessional doctorate recipients in universities are not U. S. citizens. When asked if this proportion of foreign postdoctorals was a matter of concern, over two thirds of the university administrators expressed none. A few regretted the relative lack of American students, some worried over the brain drain and the high proportion of foreign students in certain fields, but less than 15 percent ex- pressed concern in any general way. Even then, their alarm was tempered. The spokesman for one institution said that the foreign ratio was "somewhat high," for another it was "some cause for concern," and for another "of some concern." Many graduate deans explain the large numbers of foreign postdoctorals in terms of the salary scale. Said one dean from a southern university: We feel that one reason for the high incidence of foreign postdoctorals is that the usual postdoctoral stipends are attractive to foreigners, whereas they may not be very competi- tive with what a young PhD could earn in this country by taking a well-paying job in in- dustry or even in higher education. The dean at a technological institution agreed: "I suspect that, while there is a demand for postdoctoral education among United States PhD's, they are eigners separately. Refer particularly to Chapter 4. Appendix B-3 presents data on for- eign postdoctorals by country of origin.
208 THE FOREIGN POSTDOCTORAL also reluctant to accept stipends of $5,000 to $7,000 per year (even with tax benefits)." Still another dean suggests that: The large number of foreign postdoctorals on our campuses probably results from the fact that foreigners will come to work on our sponsored research projects for smaller sal- aries than Americans of similar qualifications would require. It is difficult to accept this argument, however, after examining the number of American postdoctorals. In 1967 we find that 26 percent of the physics PhD's, 33 percent of the chemistry PhD's, and 58 percent of the biochemistry PhD's (Table 10, p. 60) were talcing postdoctoral positions as their first post- degree activity; it is difficult to believe that Americans do not find postdoc- toral appointments attractive.3 It is more likely that the dean from a develop- ing university was correct when he asserted: In the fields in which I am familiar, the large numbers of foreign postdoctoral s simply reflects the fact that the capacity for directing research, measured both in terms of fac- ulty talent and government money exceeds the supply of American candidates. I should think that this is one of the more effective uses of United States funds if it were to be regarded as a type of foreign aid. I expect it is not unlike the flow of American chemists to German universities before the first war, and that it simply reflects a response to the opportunity and the quality of what is going on in our universities. This does not mean that there is no exploitation of the foreign postdoc- toral. The dean at a midwestern university said, "It has been said that foreign postdoctoral appointees are a cheap source of labor. I am afraid that in some cases this is true." The dean at another university was more explicit: ... I suspect that the particular mix between foreign postdoctorals and citizens of the United States depends upon the drawing power of a particular professor. He will normally pick the most promising men applying to work with him, although he may be influenced somewhat by his desire to be known and have influence in particular foreign countries. Some of the so-called foreign postdoctorals are simply hired hands and reflect the fact that some foreigners, often with not too great ability, are willing to do kinds of work which American postdoctorals or graduate students will not do. Table 49 shows that, among post-PhD's, the foreign postdoctorals are un- evenly distributed among the universities. In the ten leading institutions the U. S. postdoctorals constitute almost half of the population, whereas in the developing institutions only 38 percent of the postdoctorals are U. S. citizens. A related situation is demonstrated in Table 50, where the foreign post- doctorals according to the per capita GNP of their home country are distrib- uted among the types of universities. Not only do the developing universities 3This assumes that the American postdoctorals have no less financial need or no less mar- ketability than their classmates who do not seek postdoctoral appointments. Both assump- tions are probably true.
209 IMPACT ON U.S. UNIVERSITIES TABLE 49 PhD Postdoctorals at U.S. Academic Institutions, by Type of Institution and Citizenship Percentage of PhD Postdoctorals by Citizenship U.S. Foreign Type of Academic with with Total Institution U.S. PhD Foreign PhD Percent Number Ten leading 40 12 30 100 1,943 Twenty other major 46 10 43 100 1,586 Established 46 11 44 100 1,092 Developing 38 12 51 100 643 Other 64 11 25 100 362 Total 47 11 42 100 5,626 Source: NRC, Office of Scientific Personnel, Postdoctoral Census Questionnaire. have a higher fraction of postdoctorals from abroad, they also tend to attract foreigners from the less-developed countries. As the dean of one of the develop- ing universities expressed it: I have doubts about the large number of foreign postdoctorals. One reason for this large number seems to be that they often apply to less-well-known universities to work with less-than-famous faculty members. They take positions that many American postdoctorals would not be interested in. How good this is for their training, and how much it helps the reputation of American science abroad may be questionable. Nevertheless, the vast majority of administrators are in favor of the presence of foreign postdoctorals and feel that the expense involved in their training is more than compensated for by the benefits that are derived from having them. Not only is the research in this country enriched by the'contributions that these people make while here, but they often bring to our researchers techniques and approaches to research that have been developed abroad. Beyond the cost-bene- fit analysis, however, is the large consensus that international education is a responsibility of the world's richest country. The dean at an eastern university asserted: The large proportion of foreign persons among the postdoctoral population is no cause for alarm. The preponderance will phase out within a few years as the wave of the post- war population boom swells the ranks of postdoctoral fellows. The contribution that United States institutions make to the postdoctoral education of foreign nationals will be amply repaid in a continuing flow of the academic progeny which these foreign post- doctorals will produce upon their return to their native countries. Also, good talent is always a good investment and attracts its own kind.
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211 IMPACT ON U.S. UNIVERSITIES A dean from a large midwestern university felt that the net cost of training a foreign postdoctoral is much less than that for a predoctoral. He suggested that we should limit predoctoral education of foreign nationals to those whose countries cannot provide it for them. He went on to say: Thus it seems to me that the best time for all concerned for a student to come to America is at the postdoctoral level. He has no degree at stake, no program, nothing to do but re- search, and thus is free to observe what goes on in our educational institutions at a stage at which maturity is sufficient and obligations minimal. ... We must continue to make our contribution to the education of foreign nationals at whatever level is of most service to the world. There was no consensus among the administrators on what might constitute a disproportionate number of foreigners. Most had no formula to suggest; a few named percentages, seemingly at random. One west coast dean, however, re- ported that a committee at his institution had recommended "that the propor- tion of foreign graduate students in a department should not be allowed to jeopardize the essentially American character of the training being given in that department." He went on to say: The Committee guessed that a level of about 20 percent of foreign graduate students should be the maximum. I think the same principle would apply to the postdoctoral candidates from the point of view of their really getting an effective exposure to Ameri- can knowledge. In other words, if they become too high a proportion of the students in a department, they will find it increasingly hard to get what they came here for. Leaving aside questions of policy, let us examine what the foreign postdoc- toral picture looks like and why, from the point of view of the foreign post- doctoral himself and that of his faculty mentor. Science has long had an inter- national flavor, with national boundaries or political beliefs having only minor or temporary implications for its development. The growth of American science since the turn of the century is immeasurably indebted to scientists from abroad. Not only have large numbers of our own PhD's received their post- doctoral training in Europe, but the scientists who migrated'to this country during the 1930's to escape Germany included many who have added to our scientific reputation. Since 1930 the United States has received 83 of the 168 Nobel prizes awarded in physics, chemistry, and medicine. Of these, 20, or 24 percent, were won by immigrants to this country.4 In a fascinating account of the development of American physics in the 1920's and the subsequent rise in the numbers of refugee scientists from Ger- many in the 1930's, Charles Weiner5 writes: 4Harriet Zuckerman, private communication. Included among the 83 U. S. Nobel prizes are four awarded to noncitizens who had been long-term residents of the United States. 5Charles Weiner, A New Site for the Seminar: The Refugees and American Physics in the Thirties, Perspectives in American History, Vol. 2, Harvard, 1968.
212 THE FOREIGN POSTDOCTORAL During the years immediately preceding the rise of the Third Reich, Europe was bubbling with intellectual activity in many fields of scholarship. Physics was especially ebullient. The relatively small group of scientists in this field had a profound awareness of recent radical change in the concepts of physics and expectations of more to come. European physicists and their students were constantly in motion, traveling back and forth to ex- change newly born ideas. As today, travel and communication were essential aspects of the life of physicists, contrary to the folkloric image of the scientist locked up in his labo- ratory, uninterested in personal interactions. . . . Indeed there developed what can be described as a traveling seminar as a group of distinguished physicists attended a series of international conferences and seminars during this period, at Brussels, Leipzig, Rome, Copenhagen, Lake Como, London or elsewhere. Young physicists traveled to learn new experimental techniques, to supplement their background by exposure to different ideas, styles, and traditions of research, and some- times simply to meet their colleagues. Members of the group of physicists under the leadership of Enrico Fermi in Rome, for instance, were regularly dispatched to different laboratories during the heat of each summer to take advantage of larger research facilities or to learn new techniques in the relative coolness of London, Copenhagen, Hamburg, New York, or Pasadena. In the course of these migrations Emilio G. Segre visited Otto Stem in Hamburg and Pieter Zeeman in Amsterdam, Franco Rasetti visited Lise Meitner in Berlin and Robert A. Millikan in Pasadena, Edoardo Amaldi visited Peter Debye in Leipzig, and Fermi crossed the Atlantic to lecture at the University of Michigan. Recipro- cally, Rome was host to other physicists from all over the world. Since that time science has grown immensely and much of the excitement has migrated from Europe to the United States. Weiner's description of the reasons the young physicists traveled is an adequate description of the funda- mental purpose of postdoctoral study in most fields and is certainly applicable to those from abroad who come here to do research. Countries of Origin At the time of our census, we counted 4,845 foreign postdoctorals from 81 different countries who were in the United States at all types of host institu- tions (see Appendix B-3 for complete listing). Five countries (United Kingdom, India, Japan, Germany, and Canada), however, account for over half of all for- eign postdoctorals and only 13 countries for three quarters of them. Thirty- seven of the countries are represented by ten or fewer postdoctorals; 24 coun- tries by three or fewer. We are dealing, therefore, with a highly concentrated situation with relatively few countries having a significant impact. Figure 19 shows the numbers from the 13 major contributors of foreign postdoctorals. Even though the highly developed countries of the world (per capita gross national product of $750 or more per year) account for only 20 percent of the world's population outside the United States, postdoctorals from these coun- tries constitute 66 percent of the foreign postdoctorals (see Table 50). Among
213 COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN Number of Postdoctorals from the 13 Countries That Were the Source of Three-Quarters of All Foreign Postdoctorals. Portion Planning to Return Home UNITED KINGDOM INDIA " 1 .... .< : 1 JAPAN * GERMANY ! CANADA : CHINA . 4 AUSTRALIA ISRAEL - Â» SWITZERLAND â¢. ITALY â Â« ARGENTINA .' FRANCE PHILIPPINES : 800 200 400 600 NUMBER OF POSTDOCTORALS Source: NRC, Office of Scientific Personnel, Postdoctoral Census Questionnaire
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215 COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN the 13 leading countries in the number of postdoctoral s in the United States, only India, China, and the Philippines are not categorized as highly developed. It is difficult, however, to understand the distribution of foreign postdoctor- als among the fields. There is no real correlation between the categorization by GNP and the fields of research. Perhaps this is too much to expect. Postdoc- toral study is sufficiently determined by individual tastes and abilities that it alone need not show such relationships. There is also the probability that local strengths in certain fields will show up as a deficit in the number of postdoc- torals in those fields leaving the country to pursue their studies. In any case, Table 51 shows the distribution of postdoctorals from the six leading coun- tries among the fields of study. Only Canada and Japan have distributions similar to that of the United States. The large numbers of foreign postdoctorals would seem to imply that a great many faculty members find them useful to the research projects on which they work. For the most part the implication is valid. Many foreign postdoc- torals are sought for the particular skills and knowledge that they possess. An often-repeated comment by chemists around the country is that European, and especially German, chemists have excellent command of laboratory tech- niques. A professor with research ideas found a postdoctoral from Germany especially useful in implementing them. An oceanographer with special inter- est in photosynthesis in a marine environment settled on a Canadian and a Dutchman for his postdoctorals, after making inquiries all over the world for people who could help him and who would be willing to work in his floating laboratory. He was particularly enthusiastic about the Dutchman, who brought an excellent knowledge of certain enzymes of interest to the professor. The physics department head at a leading midwestern university put it this way: Postdoctorals from countries where scientific research is well developed bring to the United States novel points of view, ideas, methods and interpretations. The exchange of ideas between our department and physicists in certain countries, or even in particular laboratories, is often maintained for years by a succession of young postdoctorals or faculty on leave moving in each direction. Extensive and helpful exchanges have devel- oped between our department and universities in England, West Germany, Italy, France, and Japan; less extensive ones with Switzerland, the Netherlands, the USSR and India. There is evidence, however, that in other cases the foreign postdoctoral is accepted as being merely the best of a disappointing set of applicants. Although one chemist had high praise for his postdoctorals from Germany and Korea, he admitted that the Americans he was able to attract were not of a high cali- ber. Another chemist was able to characterize postdoctorals from specific countries with phrases like "bright but lazy," "industrious but unimaginative," "bright and hardworking, but difficult to communicate with," and "incompe- tent." When asked why so many of his postdoctorals were from the country he labeled as producing "incompetent" postdoctorals, he admitted that he accepted them because their applications were the best he had available.
216 THE FOREIGN POSTDOCTORAL The problem appears to be one of advertising or, more accurately, the lack of advertising. A professor with a research grant that provides funds for post- doctoral assistance is often limited in his ability to make these opportunities known. If he is sufficiently renowned, he is often faced with a spontaneous flood of inquiries from interested young holders of the doctorate, both domes- tic and foreign. Under these circumstances he is able to be quite selective and is often able to provide names of unsuccessful but qualified prospective post- doctorals to less well-known colleagues in his department. But for many investi- gators the situation is quite different. A man with only limited reputation may receive no unsolicited applications from Americans. If he desires such applica- tions, he is placed in the position of having to write or call colleagues at other institutions to ask if they have any students whom they would recommend for a postdoctoral appointment. Such a procedure is tantamount to admitting that one's professional stature is underdeveloped. On the other hand, he is quite likely to have received requests from a few foreign applicants seeking appointments in this country. The foreign PhD is often in no position to be choosy. If his doctoral men- tor is well known in international circles, the mentor will write to his equally well-known American colleague, suggesting that the student be made a post- doctoral. On the other hand, the student of a less well-known professor must write to many professors in this country, asking for an appointment. Not knowing who, other than the prestigious scientists, will have funds for post- doctorals, the foreign PhD relies on names he has seen in the literature. Although he prefers to be picked up by one of the better-known men he has written to, his desire to come to this country is such that he will accept an offer from almost anyone. The combination of these two circumstances produces a situation in which the professor may accept a foreign postdoctoral who does not meet the stand- ards that the professor would have liked. He is fearful that a failure on his part to fill the position with someone might result in a reduction in his grant or con- tract when it comes up for renewal. This "use it or lose it" syndrome, as it is called by the program officers in the federal agencies, undoubtedly plays a role in the foreign postdoctoral picture, although it is difficult to assess to what degree.6 It must be recalled (Table 49) that one fifth of the foreign postdoctorals received their PhD's in this country. Consequently, as far as initial postdoc- toral appointments are concerned, they must be treated as Americans. If their The federal monitors of research grants show a mixed reaction to the foreign postdoc- toral. Some are concerned with the "use it or lose it" philosophy and others are confi- dent that the foreign postdoctorals are pulling their own weight. Most feel that the qual- ity of the faculty they support is sufficiently high that these investigators are able to se- lect their postdoctorals with care.
217 RETURN TO COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN background is weak, it is a reflection on American higher education rather than that of the home country. It is of interest to know how those trained abroad compare with their American counterparts. We asked the faculty to give an overall evaluation by country of the quality of previous research training of the postdoctorals. Of course there is wide variation in individual postdoctor- als, but as can be seen in Figure 20, with regard to both theoretical training and experimental training there is a definite correlation between the quality of the previous training and the degree of development of the country of ori- gin. We have combined all fields in Figure 20 in order to enhance the statistical significance. The individual fields show the same general trend. In every field for both theoretical and experimental training (with the sole exception of experimental training in chemistry) more faculty find the foreign postdoctoral less well trained than Americans than find him better trained. Only for theoretical training in chemistry and the medical specialties and for experimental training in physiology, in the social sciences, and in the medical specialties, however, do a majority of the faculty feel that the foreign post- doctoral is less well trained. The overall impression is that foreign postdoctor- als are somewhat less desirable than Americans and that their large numbers reflect in part a shortage of Americans. Two questions of importance with regard to the foreign postdoctoral are: Is the training he receives here relevant to the needs of his home country? and Does he go home? These two questions are related, but in neither case is the imperative clear. Should the training be relevant and should he go h6me? It is not the function of this study to resolve the "brain drain" issue, although we have gathered information and commentary on the subject. Return to Countries of Origin To repeat an earlier statement, there is a sense in which the postdoctoral experi- ence is aimed at individual rather than at national development. In all countries, the United States included, the postdoctoral is a member of a tiny minority; even among holders of the doctorate he is relatively rare. The experience is often important for those people who anticipate making fundamental contri- butions to knowledge, regardless of their citizenship. The individual who shows great promise of being able to advance our understanding of physics or bio- chemistry, even if he is a citizen of India or Bolivia, ought not to be denied the opportunity to make that contribution simply because his country is not yet prepared to capitalize upon it. This is not to argue that all graduates of higher education of any country should be encouraged to take postdoctoral work, but that exceptional opportunities should be made available for excep-
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219 RETURN TO COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN tional people. It would be unfortunate to deny a promising scientist the oppor- tunity to develop himself to his fullest capacity, and most postdoctoral think of themselves first as scientists and then as citizens of particular countries- At any rate, there has been little effort made to adapt the postdoctoral ex- perience to the home country's needs. This lack of effort results, in part, from the means of support. The research that the faculty member is doing and in which the postdoctoral participates is performed in response to American na- tional needs. Federal agencies support research that is appropriate to the stage of development of this country; if it is appropriate for another country, that circumstance is accidental. In part, the failure to make the research relevant for the home country of the foreign postdoctoral results from an ignorance of what such research might be. Even if he wished to provide relevant experience for his foreign postdoctorals, the American faculty member is unlikely to know what kind of experience would be appropriate. He is, after all, a chemist, a physicist, or a biologist, rather than an expert on the needs of a particular developing country. Nevertheless, when polled, the faculty indicated their estimation of the rele- vance of the training received by foreign postdoctorals to their home coun- tries' needs. Figure 21 presents the opinions of faculty in three fields. As might have been expected, as one moves from physics through chemistry to the biosciences the degree of relevance increases for those postdoctorals from less- developed countries. In all fields the training is more relevant for highly devel- oped countries, i.e., countries more like the United States. As noted above, however, faculty mentors are not necessarily the best evaluators on this subject. Accurate numbers on the extent of migration of scientific personnel are dif- ficult to obtain. In the literature on the subject7 various methods are used, but nearly all of them have pitfalls. It is almost impossible to distinguish the bona fide visitor who intends to go home from the disguised immigrant. Even when a man leaves the United States, it may be with the intention to return when the two-year limitation imposed by some visas has passed. This is especially likely if he goes to a third country rather than his home country. How long one should wait before deciding that a man will not immigrate is arbitrary. We have gathered three different sorts of information pertaining to the migration question. Each postdoctoral who answered our census questionnaire was asked to indicate his probable location following his current appointment. The faculty mentor was asked to list the foreign postdoctorals who worked for him in 1961 -62 and to give their current addresses, if known. They were able to locate an extraordinary 94 percent of the postdoctorals, usually with street addresses! We also asked the mentors where their current postdoctorals intended 7A rather complete bibliography appears in Brain Drain and Brain Gain, Research Policy Program, Lund, Sweden, 1967.
220 THE FOREIGN POSTDOCTORAL O "8 in 8 u B. j f â¢ E ffi P C O 0) cc snvaoiDoaisod NOOUOJ do
221 RETURN TO COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN to settle. The results of these inquiries are shown in Table 52. Rather consistently more of the 1967 foreign postdoctoral s intended to return home and fewer planned to stay in the United States or go to a third country than the actual performance of the 1961-62 postdoctorals would indi- cate. Even if we assume that nothing had changed between 1961-62 and 1967, the two sets of data could be consistent. The postdoctoral could go home and return to the United States or another country at a later date. The relevant conditions, however, had not stayed the same; during this period there was a rapid change in the number of academic institutions abroad, both in developed and undeveloped countries. It may well be that there are more opportunities at home for people with postdoctoral backgrounds today than there were in the early 1960's.8 In all of the data there is a relationship between per capita GNP and the tendency to return home, with those from very low-income countries showing TABLE 52 Future Location as Projected by 1967 Foreign Postdoctorals and Present Location of 1961-62 Foreign Postdoctorals Percentage of Foreign Postdoctorals by Location after Appointment Per Capita GNP of Home Country Year of Postdoctoral Appointment Home Country USA Third Country Country Unknown Total High 1967 71 13 4 12 100 1961-62 66 21 7 5 99 Medium 1967 65 21 4 11 101 1961-62 61 18 11 10 100 Low 1967 44 32 3 21 100 1961-62 35 63 4 8 100 Very low 1967 67 18 2 13 100 1961-62 49 29 14 8 100 Total 1967 66 17 4 13 100 1961-62 62 24 8 6 100 Source: NRC, Office of Scientific Personnel, Postdoctoral Census and Faculty Questionnaires. 8In the United Kingdom the number of staff members at institutions of higher education grew from 16,000 in 1961-62 to about 21,900 in 1965-66. Annual Survey, Academic Year 1965-66, Report of the University Grants Committee.
222 THE FOREIGN POSTDOCTORAL a surprising reversal (Table 52). The reversal would not be as severe as it ap- pears were it not for the rather extreme figures for China (Taiwan), which is classified as "low" income and which attracts the smallest percentage of its citizens back home (only 14 percent in 1967 and 6 percent in 1961-62). Apparently, the attraction of countries other than one's own increases for the postdoctoral in rough proportion to the difference in the degree of national development. There is no significant dependence of this phenomenon on the field of research. Because of the different ways of collecting data, it is difficult to estimate what fraction of the brain drain can be attributed to postdoctoral education as defined in this study. If, nevertheless, we combined our data with that drawn elsewhere, some interesting but possibly inconclusive consequences follow. According to testimony before a congressional committee investigating the "brain drain" from developing countries:9 China . . . had, in 1967, 4,299 students enrolled in the sciences and engineering at U. S. educational institutions but lost tfirough student immigration 1,137, some 26 percent of its enrollment. India had an enrollment of 5,146 but lost 1,074, or 21 percent Even the large percentage of Chinese postdoctoral s reporting their intention of staying in this country accounts for only 116 (or 10 percent) of the 1,137 immigrants. For India, only 110 (or 10 percent) of 1,074 immigrants were postdoctorals. This means that if every foreign postdoctoral were to return home, the brain drain would still be 90 percent as large as it now is. Our data also supports the principle well known in international educa- tional circles, that the earlier a student from abroad begins his studies in the United States the more likely he is to remain in this country. Although two thirds of all foreign postdoctorals responding to our postdoctoral census questionnaire declared their intention to return home, only 37 percent of those who received their PhD's in this country so intend. Of those who came to the United States after receiving their doctorate, over 84 percent plan to go home. Thus not only do postdoctorals constitute a small fraction of the brain drain, but the postdoctoral experience itself does not seem to play a major role in the decision not to return home. In terms of quality, however, the loss of a postdoctoral may be more seri- ous. As indicated earlier in this report, the postdoctoral tends to be the more promising researcher. His failure to return home may have a larger impact than a similar move by a less able compatriot. It may be, on the other hand, that he has become overtrained in terms of his country's needs. There may be no The Brain Drain of Scientists, Engineers, and Physicians from the Developing Countries into the United States, hearing before the Research and Technical Programs Subcommit- tee on Government Operations of the House of Representatives, 90th Congress, January 23, 1968.
223 RETURN TO COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN position in his home country that would permit him to exploit his specialized knowledge. His dilemma then is whether to stay where he can use what he knows or to suppress that knowledge and return home. As one young post- doctoral from England explained: "I wrote to every university in England, asking for a position in organic chemistry. None was available, so I am staying here. I don't believe there is so much a 'brain drain' as a 'brain overflow.'"