TED Conversations

Alex Tabarrok

George Mason University


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Can immigration increase innovation? If so, how?

The US economy is currently stagnating. To what extent could immigration improve (or not) the economy in the short run and what about increasing innovation in the long run? I offer some arguments in my TED e-book, Launching the Innovation Renaissance. I am interested, however, in what TEDsters have to say and in particular on their experiences as both employers, immigrants and competitors!

Jan. 30, 2012, 2:00pm EST/ 11:00am PST


Closing Statement from Alex Tabarrok

Lots of good ideas came up. What struck me most was the importance of maintaining flexible institutions such as a free and open economy and schooling open to all so that immigrants are able to rise and spread throughout society and do not become confined to particular places or professions.

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  • Jan 30 2012: I agree with Alex.

    As an immigration attorney who handles mostly corporate immigration, and has helped many scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers and researchers come to the U.S., I have seen first hand how they have innovated in the past and in the U.S. once they get here. Our corporate immigration policies limiting these people from coming to the country puts us at a severe disadvantage.

    This example has been frequently used, but Steve Jobs dad was an immigrant. If he had been discouraged from coming to the U.S. as a foreign student, one of the greatest innovators of our time might have been born in Syria.

    Murali Bashyam, Esq.

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