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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

January 18, 2007

Written by C.N.

Asian Immigrants Dominate Entrepreneurship

As I have written about before, Asian Americans tend to be overrepresented in entrepreneurship/small business ownership. New data shows the extent to which this is still the case today — one-quarter of all technology start ups in the last decade were started by immigrants, and that Indians were the most likely to do so:

A new study had found that more than a quarter of the engineering and technology companies launched in the U.S. from 1995-2005 had at least one foreign-born founder and Indians founded more immigrant-founded firms – 26 percent – than newcomers from China, Taiwan, the U.K. and Japan combined.

Immigrants were the founders or key executives of 52 percent of tech and engineering companies started in Silicon Valley in the decade, and nationwide immigrant-founded firms produced $52 billion in sales and employed 450,000 workers in 2005. . . . In California, New Jersey and Michigan, immigrants founded or led 39 percent, 37.6 percent and 32.8 percent, respectively, of the technology and engineering start-ups in the 10-year period. . .

“These non-immigrant citizens are typically foreign graduate students completing their Ph.D.’s, Green Card holders awaiting citizenship and employees of multinationals on temporary visas,” Wadhwa pointed out. . . . “If these people are really valuable and will help the U.S. compete globally – and I believe this is the case – we want them to be citizens and grow deep roots. These are the people we want in the U.S.; we don’t want them here temporarily.”

This study is very instructive in many ways. First it highlights the extent to which high tech entrepreneurship, which arguably forms the backbone for the future of U.S. economic competitiveness in the postindustrial economy, is dominated by Asians and in particular, by Indians. Sure, plenty of Asian Americans still open up the traditional ethnic restaurant, convenience store, or grocery store, but increasingly, many have turned their attention to he very top sectors of the American labor market — high tech firms.

Second, the article also notes that it is in the U.S.’s best interests to cultivate this entrepreneurship by integrate them into the mainstream fabric of American society. That is, rather than fret and lament the fact that more high tech startups are begun by non-White Americans, we should applaud the fact that so many immigrants want to create businesses here and encourage them to plant themselves more solidly into our society so that their businesses can continue to grow, employee American workers, and contribute to the future vitality of our economy and society.

The moral to this story is simple — American society is changing and Asian immigrants are at the forefront of those changes. Rather than resist them, Americans should embrace them because they ultimately strengthen American society and our economy.

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Asian Immigrants Dominate Entrepreneurship" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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