Where is the Land of Opportunity Now?
Educated young people and the wealthy are leaving the US in increasing numbers. Is this a downhill trend for America?
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Article first published as Where is the Land of Opportunity Now? on Blogcritics.
Americans grow up with the idea that theirs is the land of opportunity and
other places are repressed. Recent polls still say that more people around the
world would pick the United States of America over any other country to emigrate
to. Yet the young and educated are flowing out of the US faster than they
ever have before. Now Chile, Mongolia, Brazil and others have the social,
economic and government regimes that foster growth and encourage pioneers while
the mature USA evolves with ever higher restrictions and taxes.
What is the old saw about toilet water circulating one way north of the equator and the other way south? Well, the same question can be asked about the brain drain. Is it flowing into or out of the USA? Is the inflow influenced by Hollywood and other pop culture, while the outflow by faster economic growth in the developing countries and high taxes in the US?
Since the ice age migrants have ebbed and flowed always seeking better conditions. It appears to me that we currently are experiencing mass migrations of epic proportions. Mexicans and other Latin Americans pouring into the US is now recent history. In the last decade the population of Ireland first increased rapidly and then decreased even faster. The last three years have seen Greece citizens emigrating to Greek enclaves around the world. Similarly Hong Kong absorbed the millions of Chinese seeking a better life and Singapore ballooned with those from Malaysia and other Southeastern Asians. Who’s next?
I have read about a few studies that show people are leaving the stagnated mature, (read over-taxed and over-restricted) countries for the emerging economies. One example is the sky-rocket growth of the liberal Dubai at the expense of its conservative neighbors like Saudi Arabia. One recent survey by marketers America Wave claims that the percentage of Americans between 25 and 34 that are actively planning to relocate outside the US has increased to 5.1 percent from less than 1 percent in 2009.
Each year the US is tightening its tax regime for higher incomes and money earned and held abroad. This corresponds with the number of persons renouncing their US citizenships. (The US is one of the very few countries taxing residents and citizens on their income earned away from their home country.) According to government records 1,780 did so renounce in 2011 compared with only 235 in 2008. An untypical but interesting example is Eduardo Saverin, the billionaire co- founder of Facebook. Saverin was born in Brazil, moved to the U.S. in 1992, and became a US citizen in 1998. He is now a resident of Singapore and in 2011 renounced his US citizenship in order to reduce his heavy tax burden.
More typical examples of the flow out of the US are employees of corporations, both domestic and international, who are expanding their businesses in the emerging markets such as Brazil, India and, of course, China, which accounts for the largest single chunk of new assignments abroad. Most of these temporary expats will return to the US but many, experience has shown, get hooked on the adventure of extended travel or discover a lifestyle they prefer and will more or less permanently settle in a foreign country or even become global nomads, continuously relocating to where life is the best for them at the moment.
Everyone in the western US are familiar with Mexican migrants sending money back home to support their extended families. In Europe and beyond everyone knows someone who employees Filipino help who do the same. Since the US median income has not grown since 2007 and the lower end falls further behind some financial writers predict we will see more Americans finding jobs abroad and remitting funds back to their poorer families. The US State Department in 2011 estimates that 6.3 million Americans are studying or working abroad, the highest number on record.
Other studies have shown this trend is steadily building a support base of young people. Most college and universities are seeing continuous growth in popularity of Study Abroad programs. Not surprisingly, because graduates who studied abroad are being employed quicker and earning more money than those who didn’t. No doubt being placed in those new positions in the expanding economies.
Globalization, cloud computing, or whatever trend is next all influence how people and governments react. Some tend to be more adaptable than others. The young and the needy will make the extra effort to seek out opportunity as the world moves on while the rest of us bemoan that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. That hasn’t changed since the last ice age.
Much of this content was gleaned from reports by The Sovereign Man
For a light hearted look at earning a living abroad check out my Work at the Beach page
More about Study Abroad -- Instructors Earn Two Weeks in Greece
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