Monday, April 08, 2013

Talent Migration As Leading Indicator

Migration is a lagging indicator. A bad regional economy gets worse, pushing people out. As for the draw, mesofacts take over. You avoid the Rust Belt, minding a recession some 30-years in the past. Despite the high unemployment, Charlotte is attractive. You have many friends and family who have made the move. The entire relocation story is predictable, a cliché.

Ironic migration is a leading indicator. In a sea of shrinking population, one can see the early impact of economic globalization on Cleveland's urban core if you know where to look. The growth of the 25 to 34-year old cohort in the inner-ring neighborhoods is unexpected. Whole Foods is wise to this trend, opening stores in struggling neighborhoods as a signal for rapid gentrification. And boom goes East Liberty in Pittsburgh.

Ironic migration in the world of higher education internationalization:

Which European country sends more students to U.S. universities than any other? Is it Britain, which shares a common language and a reverence for ancient collegiate campuses? Or Germany, whose great research universities did so much to shape U.S. higher education?

The answer, it turns out, is neither. Though Britain sent more than 9,000 students to the United States last year — more than ever before — and Germany sent about 9,300, both lagged behind Turkey, which has been sending more than 10,000 students a year to the United States since 2000.

The numbers have fluctuated, with a sharp falloff after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when the United States was seen as a less desirable destination, and when Turkey was mired in its own economic crisis. But according to Open Doors, a census of international student movement issued by the Institute for International Education in New York, Turkey has long been the only European country to figure regularly in the top 10 sending nations, behind mainstays like China, India, Canada and Mexico. In 2012, Turkey sent nearly 12,000 students to the United States.

Unexpected flow? Roger that. This talent migration links the economic fortunes of Turkey and the United States.Don't call it "brain drain" or even "brain circulation". It's migration, a form of economic development.

If you are looking for an emerging market to bet on, the wealth of Turkish talent studying in the United States makes Istanbul a smart play. This ironic migration is predictive of opportunities most people are overlooking. Boston is cornering the market on Brazil. Which US city dominates the Turkish talent trade? I'll have to take some time and peruse the Open Doors data.

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