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U.S. firms: half import researchers.

U.S. firms: Half import researchers

Over the past 15 years, U.S. industry has developed "a substantial dependency" on foreign-born scientists and engineers, according to a National Science Foundation survey of hiring practices by more than 300 firms. Half of the surveyed firms, regardless of size (152 were large, Fortune 500 respondents), reported employing foreign scientists. Among such firms, foreign nationals accounted for an average of 9 percent of the science and engineering work force. However, because many foreign workers become naturalized citizens, "data on foreign citizens understate the participation of those from abroad in the science-and-engineering work force," says the study, published Feb. 28. Among surveyed firms hiring non-U.S. citizens, another 11 percent of their science and engineering workers were naturalized U.S. citizens.

On average, the survey found, foreign researchers were better educated than their U.S. counterparts; 35 percent of them had Ph.D.s, as opposed to 12 percent of the U.S.-born researchers. The distribution of foreign-born workers was greatest in electronics firms, where noncitizens represented 14 percent of all scientists and engineers hired since June 1984. This compared with 12 percent of new workers in independent research and development laboratories, 7 percent in chemical and drug firms and 2 percent in all other industries -- for a combined total of 8 percent of all new hires. Electronics firms were three times more likely than the average to hire experienced, noncitizen workers. However, while 55 percent of the foreign hires by electronic firms held bachelor's degrees and only 15 percent had Ph.D.s, the trend was reversed in chemical firms; there, 8 percent of noncitizen hires had bachelor's degrees and 75 percent held doctorates.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 15, 1986
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