Jun 20, 2011

The impact of studying abroad - and of being made to return home again

The third, and least convincing paper, is also the one that is likely of most direct interest to developing countries. In a paper appearing in a recent NBER volume, Kahn and MacGarvietry and examine the impacts of the U.S. Foreign Fulbright program on knowledge creation in sciences and engineering. The Fulbright program provides scholarships to enable foreign students to come to U.S. graduate schools, but then requires that these students return to their home countries for 2 years after graduation. [Fun fact: apparently working for the World Bank or other international organizations is a loophole]. The question then is whether and how forcing people to go back to their home countries after graduate study impacts on their careers. The authors find Fulbright recipients in sciences and engineering have significantly fewer high-impact publications and overall citations, with this result strongest for people from the poorest countries – i.e. being made to go back to a poor country is a career killer.
I wonder what difference it makes if graduates come back home to university jobs vs industry jobs. 

Fulbright students often get into government positions or into private sector jobs, they tend to be very successful but probably not in terms of citations or publications, but in terms of influence and income. Fulbright students usually get masters degrees with does not totally prepare studetns for a carrer in science, very few Fulbright students get PhDs. 

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