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Ram Mudambi: "High-skill Migrants and Innovation: Populist Responses and Implications for Policy"

This is a past event.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023 at 1:30pm to 3:00pm

FIU College of Business Complex - CBC 240, 240

There is empirical evidence suggesting that populist responses tend to be more negative for migrant groups that (a) compete with native-born workers in the labor market and (b) for those that disproportionately burden public services, often causing a need for increased tax revenues. Both effects tend to be stronger for migrants with low levels of human capital in terms of knowledge and skills. Conversely, migrants with high human capital have been shown to complement native-born workers in the labor market and to be net contributors rather than a drain on state coffers.

In this presentation, Prof. Ram Mudambi (Temple University) and his colleagues will add to this ‘human capital’ view of migrants by pointing out that every migrant brings a second form of capital to the destination country, i.e., social capital. In turn, a migrant’s social capital appears in two mutually reinforcing forms, bonding and bridging. Bonding social capital enables the migrant to fit into a local institution with colleagues and co-workers, enhancing the productivity of an entire team or unit in addition to his or her individual contributions. Bridging social capital recognizes the fact that in the modern world of ‘brain circulation (Saxenian, 2005), migrants retain social ties (both kinship and professional) with their countries of origin. This implies that a migrant from a country with a strong knowledge infrastructure like India or Turkey can tap into deep knowledge pools in their country of origin using bridging social capital enabled by a common language and culture. This makes the person more valuable than their own human capital. In contrast, a migrant from a country with a weak knowledge infrastructure like Somalia or Congo has virtually no bridging social capital, i.e., bridging to their country of origin brings nothing of value to the host country. Prof. Mudambi will argue that our two-dimensional human capital / social capital view of high-knowledge migrants has crucial implications for policy.

Event Type

Academics, Lectures & conferences


Faculty & Staff


FIU Business, FIU College of Business




College of Business


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