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Things That Make You Say “Goodbye”

November 12, 2012

Lynn and I were jousting in a post from the weekend over England, particularly around the drain that they experienced when their innovators moved out.  Reason’s Hit and Run Blog also had a note on that today:

New statistics show that around 149,000 Brits emigrated last year, leaving the UK for the United States, Australia, and Canada, among other destinations. Commentators, however, are more alarmed that almost half of Britons emigrating each year are professionals and company managers, “potentially threatening the country’s supply of highly skilled workers,” as one writer put it.

Britain’s high rates of income tax, alongside an increasing cost of living and slow economic recovery, are seen as key factors in the sharp increase in professionals leaving the country. John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, one of the UK’s leading independent employers’ organizations, agrees that taxation is an issue, but believes that a remedy is imminent. “These are disturbing figures, there is no doubt that the spike in recent years was due in part to high personal taxes, which the Chancellor is now tackling.” 

I’d likely note that once people head out, the only reason they’ll come back is to retire or otherwise scale back.  There are always extenuating circumstances, but an exit is typically pretty final.  I left Ohio a couple decades ago because there was no long-term opportunity for me, and I left knowing I’d never go back.  True, there’s still not any real business opportunity there, either…  I’d bet Lynn could say the same about New York, and some of our readers can also sympathize.

Which leads me to the question I asked in the prior post: Will people actually leave the US for opportunity elsewhere?  I suppose I could see some foreign nationals moving home, especially to places like India and China, where business opportunity is still growing.  I wonder whether children of Chinese origin would also be drawn back to China. (I’ve postulated that China will be very interested in getting back those females who were adopted and raised in the US, but that’s another post.) But what about US citizens?  Where would they go, if they did go?

There are a few options in places like Australia and perhaps New Zealand, and we should never forget that Canada is a strong draw for high-level skill sets.  But I don’t think those areas can support the serious innovators.  Likewise, the opportunity for Americans in China or India is fairly low.  I don’t see a mass exodus.

So then, how else will innovators move out of the system?  I wonder how many people who would otherwise be encouraged to innovate will instead just take a “means” job and keep their improvements to themselves?  I don’t want to get to the “going Galt” phase of life yet, though I’m certainly hearing a lot of rumbling on that from different quarters.  So watching immigration and the market for where new innovation is happening will certainly be an interesting hobby over the next decade.

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