Asian brain drain

Abagond explains what is behind the model minority stereotype and how U.S. immigration law has changed from being racist to be classist, favoring the highly educated.


New Filipino nurses during an oathtaking ceremony in Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines on 20 September 2010. A total of 37,679 out of 91,008 examinees passed the Philippine Nurse Licensure Examination held on July 3 and 4. Work opportunities for Filipino sailors, nurses and engineers are growing as the global economy recovers from last year's slump. EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN New nurses during an oathtaking ceremony in Pasay city, Philippines in 2010. (EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN)

The Asian brain drain (1965- ) is the flow of highly educated people from Asia to the US: doctors from India, nurses from the Philippines, engineers from China, and so on. It is the “truth” behind the Model Minority stereotype, which racializes a false correlation.

People have been coming to the US from Asia for hundreds of years for all kinds of reasons. But most Asians came as part of three main waves:

  1. 1849 to 1934: mostly field workers, especially from China, Japan and the Philippines.
  2. 1965 to present: the brain drain, especially from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, India, the Philippines and South Korea.
  3. 1970s to 1980s: refugees, especially from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Of the three, the brain drain is the one that middle-class White Americans most frequently come across.

Each of these waves is…

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