There is no shortage of pro-H-1B research reports sponsored by pro-H-1B organizations. The latest is The Demographics of Innovation in the United States. As with the others, this one has the usual characteristics:
- Reliance on gross figures, not broken down or compared to the relevant numbers.
- Absurd comparisons of educated immigrants to the general U.S. population.
- Numerous citations of pro-H-1B research papers.
- Selective quotation of other papers.
- NO references to papers with contrary findings.
Those last three bullets are especially egregious in this ITIF report, as it claims to present a comprehensive “[research] literature review.”
I will not go into a detailed critique of the report, and will just focus on what the report hopes will be its “headline grabbing” finding:
The study finds that immigrants comprise a large and vital component of U.S. innovation, with 35.5 percent of U.S. innovators born outside the United States.
Is 35.5% a lot? Not when you take into account the relevant bases of comparison, such as:
- More than 60% of Silicon Valley engineers are immigrants.
- Over 50% of computer science PhDs granted in U.S. universities are earned by foreign students.
- So that 35.5% figure would suggest that the immigrants are underperforming relative to the natives, not outperforming them.
- On the contrary, the per-capita figures show that immigrant computer scientists and others in STEM are LESS likely than U.S. natives to have filed a patent application or even be in R&D.
So that 35.5% is a perfect example of “how to lie with statistics.” In many cases the “lies” are simply mistakes arising from ignorance, but whether deliberate or not, the harm done is the same.
I’d say that it’s likely that some senator will cite this ITIF report in tomorrow’s Senate hearing.