Read According to one Iranian newspaper approximately 800,000 individuals join the labor force in Iran each year, of which about 300,000 are university graduates text version

The New Phase of Globalization and the Brain Drain: Migration of Educated Iranians to the US

Mohammad Chaichian Mt. Mercy College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa [email protected] Session 4: "Impacts of International Migration on Receiving Countries: the Americas" Conference on "Trans-Atlantic Perspectives on International Migration: Cross Border Impacts, Border Security, and Socio-Political Responses"

March 4, 2010


This paper`s focus is on emigration of the educated elite to the United States from one Southwest Asian nation, namely, Iran, which has experienced fundamental social changes since the early 1970s that have continued to the present time. In 1990 Iran had the highest rate of brain drain to the United States of all Asian countries, while at the same time hosting millions of refugees mostly from Afghanistan and Iraq; making Iran a unique case for further examination. Building on earlier world-system and dependency theories I trace the roots of center-periphery relations that have triggered emigration, and apply David Harvey`s analysis of the new phase of globalization (post-Fordist flexible production) to distinguish the emigration dynamics of Iran`s educated elite during the 1950-1980 period from those of the last three decades (since the 1979 Iranian revolution). In particular, I postulate that in the former period educated Iranians emigrated to further their education and sharpen their skills as sojourners, expecting to return to Iran and serve their nation; while emigrants in the latter period are guided by a new culture of the postFordist globalization phase that thrives on the mobility of a highly skilled and educated global labor force that can be promptly and efficiently utilized wherever there is a demand. In the second part of this paper I examine the profile of the educated Iranian emigrants particularly in the last two decades; internal and external socio-economic and political forces and processes that have facilitated emigration; and costs and benefits for both sending and receiving countries. I identify two specific characteristics of Iran`s postFordist emigration of the educated elite. First, brain drain is at times caused directly by the Western countries` head hunting practices in order to recruit and employ the cream of the crop. Second, the post-Fordist Iranian emigrants are no longer constrained by the nationalist sentiments of the previous period. Rather, they have developed an internationalist national identity that allows them to respond to the highest bidder in a global market while still maintaining their Iranian cultural identity.


Introduction In the past two decades the educated and highly skilled individuals have comprised a sizeable portion of this international migration known as brain drain, mostly from developing nations to developed countries. The first reliable estimates on the global brain drain were provided by Carrington and Detragiache (1998) whereby they calculated the percent of highly educated persons from a given developing country who emigrated to OECD countries (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). They estimated that in 1990 a total of 12.9 million very well educated (i.e., those with tertiary education) emigrated from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, North and South America to OECD countries, of which 7.0 million went to the United States. This paper`s focus is on emigration of the educated elite to the United States from one Southwest Asian nation, namely, Iran which has witnessed fundamental social changes which began in the 1970s but has continued to the present time leading to a dramatic increase in the number of emigrants particularly those who were admitted to the United States. For instance, data on global brain drain by Carrington and Detragiache (1998) indicate that in 1990 (during the peak period of emigration) Iran had the highest rate of brain drain to the United States among Asian countries, followed by Taiwan, the Philippines, and Korea (see Figure 1). Reportedly, 14.7 percent of Iran`s labor force with a tertiary education immigrated to the United States.

Figure 1. Migration Rates to the United States by Educational Category, 1990 (percent)

Source: Carrington and Detragiache (1998).

Almost a decade ago, Iran`s student news agency ISNA reported that in 2001 some 220,000 leading academic elites and industrialists have left Iran for western countries and quoted the Minister of Science, Research and Technology at the time that they are unlikely to return (Payvand, 2001). But few years later during his first term 3

(2005-2009) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad categorically denied the news about Iran`s critical level of brain drain during his first term (2005-2009) and declared that some are making incorrect interpretations by using the term brain drain; we do not have any brain drain. But now in 2010, in the first year of his second term and confronted with the June 2009 presidential election fraud controversy Ahmadinejad`s administration has explicitly admitted that the emigration of educated elite has become one of the main social problems facing Iranian society--so much so that the government has established a special committee to tackle the issue of brain drain in consultation with several ministries (Tale`ii, 2010). This is at the time when in 2009 in its annual report the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that with the emigration of 180,000 educated and skilled individuals Iran has the highest level of brain drain among 91 developing and developed nations; costing the government an equivalent of $50 billion in foreign exchange currency. Related to the United States, the IMF report indicated that more than 250,000 Iranian engineers and physicians reside in the United States, with another 170,000 who hold higher education degrees (ibid.). Another phenomenon that has compounded the problem, is the emigration of thousands of Iranians to European countries and the United States in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election that comprise a new generation of exiled Iranians applying as refugees or asylum seekers (Deutsche Welle, 2009). But what makes Iran`s migration story unique is that it has also hosted millions of refugees, mostly from Afghanistan and Iraq (Hakimzadeh, 2006: 1). Based on one estimate in 1990 Iran admitted about 2,300,000 Afghan and 800,000 Iraqi refugees (op cit., Figure 1: 7)., and in 2003 the United Nations high Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that Iran ranked second after Pakistan in hosting refugees by granting asylum to 985,000 individuals (IRNA, 2004).1 Theoretical Context In general the term brain drain can be defined as the permanent or long-term international emigration of skilled people who have been the subject of considerable educational investment by their own societies (Wickramasekara, 2002:3). Brain drain is sometimes also called focused migration, or promotion by certain developed countries of emigration for highly educated individuals from developing nations (Murro, 2008: 158). Brain drain is a fairly new phenomenon that has evolved with the new phase of globalization roughly started in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The main characteristic of this new phase is its tendency to integrate nations and people across political boundaries in order to facilitate free flow of goods and services, capital, knowledge and skills, as well as people (see Stiglitz, 2002: 9-10). The earliest theoretical analyses of this new phase of globalization included the neo-Marxist world-systems and dependency theories formulated by Walllerstein (1974) and Frank (1980), respectively. Wallerstein provided a model for a capitalist worldsystem whereby an international division of labor has led to emergence of a hierarchy of various regions in the world, each with their specific processes of production, consumption and labor conditions. In brief, he divided the world into three categories of


The top five countries in granting asylum in 2003 were Pakistan (1.1 million); Iran (985,000); Germany (960,000); Tanzania (650,000); and the United States (452,000) (ibid.).


countries, namely, core (Western colonial powers and other countries with advanced capitalist economies); periphery (former colonies or newly independent nations that provide cheap labor and raw materials to the core countries and are controlled by them); and semi-periphery (peripheral countries in transition with a capacity for economic growth and development and technological advancement). Frank one the other hand postulated that the world capitalist system is based on an unequal socio-economic and political power relation between the rich, developed core nations and the poor developing countries that perpetuates the latter nations` underdevelopment and dependency in the former. Rizvi (2005:183) argues that both Frank and Wallerstein consider brain drain as the by-product of a world capitalist economy that is geared for economic development in core countries at the expense of the periphery: It is argued that such a system encourages people in the periphery or semiperiphery who possess high skills or education to emigrate to the core, further strengthening the core`s position within the world-system. The world-system theory is thus used to show brain drain to be a predictable structural consequence of a world capitalism, resulting in the reproduction of underdevelopment and global inequalities (ibid.). But Rizvi (op cit.: 184) is critical of the world-system and dependency theories` approach to brain drain and argues that they both provide a functional theory of capital accumulation that mechanically leads to emigration of the skilled individuals from periphery to the core, independent of their specific historical and social locations subordinates cultural dynamics to economic generalization and fails to come to terms with people`s situatedness` in the world. A more accurate interpretation of the new phase of globalization is offered by David Harvey in his book The Condition of Postmodernity Harvey (1990: 121-124) calls the post-1970s period as the era of postmodern flexible production which is in sharp contrast with the pre-1970 "Fordist-Keynsian" phase of globalization. Accordingly, the Fordist-Keynsian era was characterized by a rigid model of mass production that relied on a vertical corporate structure; a spatial hierarchy of industrial production based on assembly line technology that utilized former colonies and the newly independent countries to produce consumption goods for domestic use; while technology, know-how, and production of the more sophisticated capital goods remained in the center. This was a post-colonial nation-building approach that was based on a developmentalist ideology that sought to modernize former colonies and aid them in economic development in order for them to become a more viable and compatible partners in the global market (Peet and Hartwick, 1999). To that end, students from developing countries were allowed to pursue their higher education in Western developed core countries. But there was little brain drain during this phase, as students were expected to ....return home and utilize their skills in nation-building projects (Rizvi, 2005: 178). In contrast, the "post-modern flexible production" is a decentralized global production process that relies on smallbatch production, sub-contracting and out-sourcing; as well as a two-tiered, highly mobile unskilled and skilled multi-tasking labor force with minimum or no bargaining power (ibid.: 177-179). As related to brain drain, this new phase of globalization thrives on the ability of a highly skilled and educated immigrant population that could be moved


around and utilized beyond national political boundaries in order to meet the demands of a global capitalist economy. Available data tend to support a global shift in the extent of labor mobility during the second phase of globalization. For instance, in 2000 the United Nations reported that one out of every 35 persons in the world, or 175 million, were international migrants, representing more than a twofold increase from 76 million in 1960 (United Nations, 2005: 379). The more conventional theories of economic development and growth consider education a major determinant of long-term growth in developing countries, leading to the conclusion that migration of the educated elite will hamper their economic growth since they will inevitably be replaced by the less educated, lower skilled individuals (Lucas, 1988; Bhagwati and Hamada, 1974; Piketty, 1997). International organizations such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and even the World Bank make a similar argument, that a global knowledge divide, or emigration of the educated elite will inevitably put a damper on developing nations` economic growth (Rizvi, 2005: 175-176).2 However, others have set forth the argument that in developing countries with a potential for growth and a heterogeneous labor force the emigration of an educated elite will encourage others to seek higher levels of education (Mountford, 1997; Docquier and Rapoport, 1997). Based on this line of reasoning Beine et al. (2001) present an economic model and postulate that in developing countries with a growing economy emigration of the educated elite may offer the possibility of a beneficial brain drain (BBD) in the source countries, as those who are left behind will see the benefits of education and hence encouraged to further theirs. However, it can be argued that a more logical outcome of the model is the prospects for more brain drain in future and not utilization of the newly educated individuals in developing nations. Another economic model is presented by Collier et al. (2004), who use data for 48 countries for the 1970-1990 period. They conclude that brain drain or human capital flight is mainly a portfolio choice, meaning an individual decision aimed at furthering one`s chances for success regardless of a given country`s socio-economic and political environment or placement in a global economy. Regarding global labor mobility, the emphasis on individual choice on the surface seems a plausible argument, but Harvey`s analysis (1991) clearly indicates that individuals` decisions to migrate are influenced by demands for migrant labor during various phases of globalization and structural transformation of the world capitalist economy. In addition, dependency relations between the colonized and the colonizers influence the social and cultural environment of the former as well as the direction of migration. For example, making the case for France`s former colonies Portes and Borocz (1989: 609) noted that Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians have immigrated to France in large numbers while virtually ignoring the comparative advantages` of other Western European countries. Many factors, both internal and external, may trigger or initiate population mobility in the forms of emigration and immigration. During the colonial era migration patterns were mostly dictated by the colonial powers` need to expand the colonies, as


Interestingly, this argument is very similar to the developmentalist ideology of the Fordist-Keynsian period, which on the surface sympathizes with the nations in the periphery, but does not acknowledge the new reality of the post-1970s new phase of globalization as formulated by David Harvey.


well as maintain social order in the center. Thus except for the forced migration of the African slave population, migration was mostly from center countries to the colonies and not vice versa.3 The post-WWII period`s anti-colonial movements and wars of independence in many colonies resulted in a new form of social disintegration, as the indigenous ruling elite and certain members of the intelligentsia and government bureaucracy that helped to maintain dependency relations with the center were forced to emigrate.4 This first wave of migration from post-independence/post-revolution countries in the periphery is often followed by consecutive waves, when the newly established governments are incapable of delivering what they promised or creating enough jobs. Externally, colonial powers` national and global interests are often at odds with the policies and ideological direction of post-revolution nations in the periphery; leading the former to impose punitive economic and political restrictions on the latter, and to court and at times encourage the dissident population to leave. Classic examples related to the United States` colonial interests are Cuba after 1959, Vietnam after 1975, and Iran after the 1979.5 However, despite similarities in immigration patterns, internal socio-economic, political, and cultural dynamics and incentives to emigrate are unique to each nation. Also, it is important to recognize the fact that regardless of individual decisions to emigrate or social conditions in the sending countries the receiving country always has the final say in the numbers, conditions and qualifications of those who are admitted. The Case of Iran There are several interpretations of the internal and external factors that have influenced emigration of Iranians, as well as major emigration waves since the 1970s.6 Related to the United states, a reading of the census data indicates that Iranian immigration gained momentum during the 1961-1970 period. During this period many immigrants came mostly from affluent families with economic means to send their children abroad to study (Hakimzadeh, 2006). But the number of those who were admitted was much lower than the decade preceding the 1979 revolution (10,291 and 46,152, respectively). In fact, most observers of Iranian immigration patterns consider the 1971-1980 period as the decade that produced the first wave of emigration. Two factors are identified as the main impetus for population mobility. First, in an attempt to consolidate his political power in 1975 the then Shah (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi) dissolved all existing political parties and asked all Iranians to join his newly established Iranian People`s Resurgence Party (Hezbe-Rastakiz-e Mellat-e Iran). Facing the expected resistance to this unilateral authoritarian decree he also asked those who did not agree with his one-party political system to pack and leave the country (Banuazizi, 1976: 476). Torbat (2002: 274) contends that a number of political activists and academics who could not tolerate the Shah`s repression gradually started to leave the country. In the meantime, affluent upper and middle class


Colonization of North American territories is a prime example, whereby even up until after WWII the majority of immigrants originated from European countries. 4 This is commonly known as the comprador bourgeoisie. 5 See Chaichian (2008a, Epilogue). 6 See for example, Bozorgmehr (n.d.), Chaichian, 2008a: Epilogue), Hakimzadeh (2006), and Torbat (2002).


families continued to send their offspring abroad to pursue their higher education. According to one study, during the 1977-78 academic year there were about 100,000 Iranians studying abroad, of whom 36,200 were enrolled in American institutions (Hakimzadeh, 2006: 2). But probably the third and the most significant factor for emigration during this decade was the flight of the Shah`s supporters (royalists) and members of religious minority groups particularly the Jews and the Baha`is. The former group comprised mainly of the families closely associated with the monarch--government bureaucrats, military personnel and the upper echelon of the business community who were tipped off about the imminent collapse of the Shah`s regime and left the country with significant liquidated assets in hand (ibid.). During the 1981-1990 Iran experienced the highest level of emigration in its recent history, which is generally identified by observers as the second wave of emigration (see Table 1). Table 1. Iranian Immigrants Admitted to the United States, 1961-2005

Decade/Period: # Admitted: 1961-1970 10,291 1971-1980 46,152 1981-1990 154,587 1991-2000 112,597 2001-2005 55,098

Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Studies, cf. Hakimzadeh (2006).

As is shown in Table 1 while there was almost a four-fold increase in the number of immigrants during the 1970-1980 period compared to the previous decade, the 19811990 period stands out with another four-fold increase in the number of those who left Iran with substantial numbers being individuals with tertiary level of education and special skills. The second wave included professionals, academics, members of the leftwing parties and organizations, women escaping religious and ideological restrictions and gender-based discrimination, and the draft-age men trying to escape the military service and fighting during the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq (1980-1988). In his analysis of the Iranian brain drain particularly to the United States, Torbat (2002:275-276) attributes several actions by the Islamic government after the revolution to the surge in emigration during the 1980s. First, purging the experienced workers and professionals who were affiliated with the ancient regime in a systematic government cleansing campaign (paksazi) and replacing them with government sympathizers and supporters of the Islamist ideologies. Second, the government`s launching the Cultural Revolution (Enghelab-e Farhangi) in 1980 that aimed to de-Westernize the institutions of higher education and purge secular, pro-Western faculty opposing Islamization plans which resulted in closing the universities for almost three years.7 Finally, a large-scale crackdown and execution of political opponents, mostly on the left, that left no other choice for many than to flee the country. The decade also witnessed the highest numbers of Iranian refugees seeking for asylum (see figure 2). Although with less intensity, the United States government continued to admit 112,597 Iranian immigrants during the 1991-2000 period compared with 154,857 for previous decade (see Figure 3).


This is ideological tendency has resurfaced several times since the Cultural Revolution years; the latest being the statement made by the current Science and Technology Minister, Kamran Daneshjou, that the country`s universities have no need for secular` professors, and educators who do not subscribe to the Islamic worldview have no place in Iran`s universities (Radio Zamaneh, 2010).


Figure 2. Asylum Applications from Iran in Industrialized Countries, 1982-2008

Source: 2008 Statistical Review, Iranian Refugees` alliance, Inc. .

Figure 3. Iranian Born immigrants Admitted to the United States (1970-2004)

Note: This figure includes both immigrants admitted and those who adjusted their status after arrival. Therefore, the 1990 peak is partially a result of people who arrived in the 1980s but did not adjust until the early 1990s. Source: US Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, 1970-2004 (cf. Hakimzadeh & Dixon, 2006).

In her analysis of immigration cycles of Iranians to the United States Hakimzadeh (2006) also identifies a third emigration wave roughly from the mid-1990s that in her opinion has continued to the present time. In contrast to the previous two waves the third wave is much smaller in size. Hakimzadeh (ibid.) identifies two very distinct populations comprised of highly skilled individuals leaving universities and research institutions, as well as working-class labor migrants and economic refugees who sometimes have lower education levels and less transferable skills than previous emigrants. The case of emigration of faculty and graduates of one prestigious university in Iran to the United States, Canada and Australia, namely, the Sharif University of Science and Technology (SUST) in Tehran is an example of the dynamics of brain drain for the educated elite. Funded by the Iranian government as a public university, SUST is considered as one of the top three institutions of higher education in Iran.8 Known for its


The other two are the University of Tehran and the Isfahan University of Technology.


world-class programs in the fields of science and engineering, SUST graduates are being recruited by top­ranking universities particularly in the United States. In a report titled The Star Students of the Islamic Republic Molavi (2008) traces SUST`s track record to few years back: In 2003, administrators at Stanford University`s Electrical Engineering Department were startled when a group of foreign students aced the notoriously difficult Ph.D. entrance exam, getting some of the highest scores ever. That the wiz kids weren`t American wasn`t odd; students from Asia and elsewhere excel in U.S. programs. The surprising thing, say Stanford administrators, is that the majority came from one country and one school: Sharif University of Science and Technology in Iran. Although in 2009 SUST was ranked 529 in the world among top 600 universities, its admirers often boast of the statement made by Bruce Wooley, the former chair of Electrical Engineering Department at Stanford University who once announced that "without a doubt the finest university in the world preparing undergraduate electrical engineers is Sharif University of Technology in Tehran" (cf. Molavi, ibid.).9 Students from SUST and other top universities in Iran have also gained a reputation as being superstars in International Olympiads, often taking home trophies in physics, mathematics, chemistry and robotics. (Molavi, op cit.). Furthermore, existing data support Hakimzadeh`s interpretation, as the number of Iranian refugees and asylum seekers has also been on the rise even though fewer Iranian immigrants have been admitted to the United States since the mid-1990s compared to the 1980s and early 1990s. The estimates by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) indicate that in 2004 Iran ranked tenth among countries of origin for asylum seekers across Europe; and by the end of 2005 there were 111,684 refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons (IDPS) and other persons of concern from Iran worldwide of which 20,541 were hosted by the United States (ibid.). 10 But during the 2006-2008 period alone 13,543 Iranian refugees were admitted to the United States, and Iran ranked very high among various nationalities and countries of origin (third in 2006 and 2007 and fourth in 2008), thus signaling possible changes in social, economic, and political conditions within Iran.11 Iranian Americans' Educational and Professional Profile A recent report by the research firm Science-Metrix examines the extent of growth in scientific and technological research in the past two decades has concluded that whike the scientific output in the fields of inorganic and nuclear chemistry, nuclear and particle physics, and nuclear technology has increased by 34 percent at the world level, that of Iran has increased by 84 times with Iran and Turkey leading the pack among all


For a ranking of top universities in the world in 2009 visit the QS World University Rankings: . 10 As Martin & Hoefer (2009:3) report, this is in spite of the fact that in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 fewer refugees have been admitted to the United States due partly to changes in security procedures and admission requirements. 11 For an interesting account of the Iranian refugee situation in 2009 in the aftermath of controversial presidential election and violent street protests and confrontations see Stecklow and Fassihi (2009).


countries in the middle East (Archambaud, 2010: 5). This with no doubt has multiplier effects within the Iranian scientific and academic community. A dominant theme both in scholarly works and in newspaper articles and blogs about Iran`s brain drain, particularly those who have come to the United States, is their high levels of education and stellar achievements as academics, CEOs in the private sector and scientists. Existing data clearly support this, as for example in 1998 immigrants of Iranian ancestry in the U.S. trailed Egyptians as having the highest levels of education, and certainly Iran`s scientific achievements in the past three decades cannot be discounted (see Table 3). Table 3. Top Five Ancestry Groups With highest Levels of Education in the United States, 1998 (Percent) Ancestry Egyptian Iranian Nigerian Russian Turkish Bachelor's Degree or Higher 60.4 56.2 52.9 49.0 40.9 Graduate Degree or Higher 25.6 26.0 26.3 24.3 22.1

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990 (internet release date: February 18, 1998):

In addition, persons of Iranian ancestry far surpass the overall U.S. population in terms of their educational achievement. As is demonstrated in Table 4, data for 2000 and 2007 indicate that Iranian immigrants with a bachelor`s or higher degrees who have been admitted to the United States are maintaining a constant 33% gap with the rest of population. To be sure, this is not the case of a nation with people of superior intelligence and learning abilities. Rather, the secret allegedly lies in Iran`s educational system particularly at the high school level which places a premium on science and exposes students to subjects Americans don't encounter until college. This tradition is extended to undergraduate programs whereby students learn subjects that are normally taught at the graduate level in American universities (Molavi, 2008). Table 4. Highest Educational Attainment Levels for Persons of Iranian Ancestry in the United States, 1990-2007 (Percent)

(1990) Iranian Ancestry (2000) Iranian Ancestry U.S. Total (2007) Iranian Ancestry U.S. Total

Educational Attainment (Highest Level) Bachelor's degree or higher Graduate degree or higher Sources:

56.2 26.0

57.2 27.5

24.4 8.9

60.1 29.0

27.5 10.1


1990 data: CPH-L-149 Selected Characteristics for Persons of Iranian Ancestry (1990). U.S. Bureau of the Census (internet release date: February 18, 1998): 2000 data: U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Summary File 4, Cf. Mostashari and Khodamhosseini (2004). 2007 data: U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates.

The expected outcome of Iranian immigrants` high level of educational achievement in the United States has been their strong and prominent presence in both the academia and corporations. For example, The Iranian Studies Group (ISG) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology compiled a list of 50 Iranians in senior leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies and other corporations with $200 million or more in assets and value. The names include General Electric, AT&T, IBM, Verizon, Intel, Cisco, Motorola, Oracle, Nortel Networks, Lucent Technologies, and eBay. In 2004 the Fortune Magazine also ranked e-Bay`s Iranian American founder and chairman, Pierre Omidyar, as the second richest American entrepreneur under age 40 (McIntosh, 2004). Iranian Americans also have a strong presence in management and professional-level occupations (see Table 5). Iranian Americans` presence in the American academic circles is also significant. Using census data for 1997 Torbat (2002: 285) estimates that there were close to 4,000 Iranian professors who taught and conducted research in American colleges and universities at the time. Later, in 2004 the ISG reported that more than 500 Iranian American professors were teaching and conducting research at top-ranked universities. The long list included MIT, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, the University of California system (Berkeley, UCLA, etc.), Stanford, the University of Southern California, Georgia Tech, University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, University of Illinois, University of Maryland, California Institute of Technology, Boston University, and George Washington University (McIntosh, 2004). Table 5. Major Occupational Characteristics of Iranians in the United States, 1990 and 2000 (%) Occupation Type Management, professional & related occupations Sales & office occupations Service occupations

Sources: a. b. U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Born Population, 1990 (cf. Torbat, 2002: 282). U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 (cf. Hakimzadeh & dixson, 2006).

1990 (a) 41.9 35.0 9.3

2000 (b) 51.8 27.5 9.0

The leading Iranian American organizations and several web sites run by Iranian expatriates often boast of star qualities and conspicuous presence of highly educated elite Iranian Americans in the business, academic and scientific circles. Sometimes the media


and freelance Iranian journalists even tell tales of head hunting or snatching of Iranian students or graduates from top universities such as SUST or University of Tehran by the alleged agents of top-ranking universities or corporations in the United States or Europe. For instance in his account of the dynamics of brain drain Molavi (2008) provides the following anecdotal example: Never far behind, Western tech companies have also started snatching them up. Silicon Valley companies from Google to Yahoo now employ hundreds of Iranian grads, as do research institutes throughout the West. Olympiad winners are especially attractive; according to the Iranian press, up to 90 percent of them now leave the country for graduate school or work abroad (Molavi, 2008). Certainly, a signature feature of brain drain during the post-Fordist flexible accumulation phase of globalization is the center countries` active participation in what is dubbed as head hunting of the educated elite from the peripheries. Initially, head hunting emerged in the late 1960s in response to a global demand for the most talented and educated individuals who can manage knowledge-intensive industries. By definition, with their clients being organizations and not job candidates, in the corporate business circles headhunters are third-party agents who are paid a fee by employers for finding job candidates for them, (Finlay and Coverdill, 2002: 2). Related to the educated Iranian immigrants, in 2009 a weekly magazine of Iran`s Agency for Management and Planning (Sazeman-e modiriyat va BarnameRizi-e Iran) reported that out of 125 Iranian students that had participated in international Olympiads 90 students were studying in American universities (Tale`ii, 2010). However, in my personal interviews with several graduate students from Sharif University who are in Ph.D. or post-doctoral engineering programs at the University of Iowa, they either did not know of such practices or considered head hunting more as a myth rather than a reality. They furthermore indicated that almost all Iranian graduates from Iran`s elite universities directly contact faculty in American universities with whom they share similar research interests; adding that getting admitted in American universities is an arduous task requiring hard work and high quality research, with little or no encouragement and incentive offered by the host country.12 Reasons, Extent, and Cost of Iran's Brain Drain According to one Iranian newspaper approximately 800,000 individuals join the labor force in Iran each year, of which about 300,000 are university graduates. However, only 25 percent of the college educated individuals are able to find jobs (Iran Daily, 2005a). With an unemployment rate of about 20 percent the Iranian government has had a hard time to create jobs for an increasing army of the unemployed, particularly its young and educated. It is a well-worn and oft repeated fact-based cliché that many university teachers and students in Iran have to moonlight as cab drivers to make ends meet (Dehghanpisheh, 2004). The government`s control of almost four-fifth of Iran`s economy, economic mismanagement, and corruption at all levels of the bureaucracy


I conducted personal interviews at the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City, Iowa (February 20, 2010), and students wished to remain anonymous. Of the 18 Iranian students enrolled at the University of Iowa at the time of my interview 7 were Sharif University graduates.


further hamper the private sector`s ability to expand and create jobs and encourage capital flight (Thomas, 2006:1). To add insult to injury, many of the young, educated Iranians have been exposed to the outside culture, mostly Western, either through the internet and satellite television, or by traveling abroad; and have grown impatient with the government`s restrictions on social interactions and democratic processes such as the freedom of the press and individual expression compared with the West (Dehghanpisheh, 2004). The Iranian government is cognizant of the problem, and in 2004 it estimated that brain drain`s annual cost for the Iranian economy is about $38 billion (Iran Daily, 2005a). Iran`s official data put the annual emigration of the university graduates at about 200,000 (Arabia, 2006). But despite the apparent damage to Iran`s economy the government does not prevent the out-migration of people for at least four reasons. First, Iran`s economy cannot provide adequate jobs for the country`s educated and skilled workforce, and creating good paying jobs for the educated and skilled Iranians is a costly undertaking that may be well beyond the government`s means. Based on one estimate, in 2005 it would have cost the government around $18,000 in order to create one new job for skilled workers, which was not an economically feasible option (Iran Daily, 2005b). . An example of post-revolution Iran`s dilemma, the Iranian government set out to open up teacher training and technical colleges and semi-private known as Free University (daneshgah-e azad)with less rigorous application procedures, but reportedly with lower quality of education all over the country in order to increase enrollment levels in higher education institutions. Related to medical school graduates in particular in an op ed. piece an Iranian physician called this government plan as a grave mistake that eventually contributed to an oversupply of physicians in the country--a situation worse than not having enough doctors (Saidi, 2006: 433). It is not a secret that many graduates of Iran`s medical schools cannot secure a job in their profession unless they are willing to serve in outlying deprived regions (manategh-e mahroom), further leading to their desire to leave. Saidi also observes that a major part of the physician brain drain pool after the 1979 revolution comprised of those who have had part or all of their education and training in Western countries, and once back home faced a culture shock and perceived themselves as academic elites who deserved a much better treatment than others. Often frustrated with their country`s inability to accommodate to their needs and their own inability to adjust they returned right back where they came from. (op cit.: 434). In his assessment of the share of a global physician brain drain for Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, Mullan (2005: 1812) puts the number of IMGs (International Medical Graduates) from Iran in the United States at 4,002, or 0.5 percent of total physician labor force in the latter country.13 The flight of Iranian physicians has continued to the present time, with most coming to the United States to continue their studies, work or both. 14


Mullan`s data does not include any Iranian IMGs for the other three countries, an indication of their low/insignificant numbers. 14 One of Iran`s prestigious medical schools prior to revolution was Shiraz University in the southern city of Shiraz that was modeled after American schools where all instruction was in English. Although aimed at educating Iranian doctors to serve in Iran (a post-colonial strategy by the United States to help Iran`s development during the Fordist-Keynsian period), the plan backfired and according to Ronaghy et al. (1972, cf. Joorabchi, ibid.), fully one-half the student body graduating from Pahlavi University in the years 1961 and 1962eventually emigrated to the United states. By 1970 more than 1,000 Iranian


Second, keeping several hundred thousand unemployed and discontented young educated Iranians would be a recipe for political and social crisis, as in the absence of social and economic opportunities these highly educated citizens could well contribute to an effective civil opposition (Dehghanpisheh, 2004). The best example in this case is the composition of the so-called Green Movement in Iran that emerged in the aftermath of the June 2009 controversial presidential election. The Green Movement`s leaders and supporters accused the Iranian government of rigging the election results that led to the defeat of their candidates (Mir hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi) and sealed the second term presidency for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In his analysis of the clashes between protesters and the government, and the latter`s bloody repression tactics Athanasiadis (2009) concludes that a galaxy of disparate and overlapping causes and social groups -- human rights advocates, discontented clerics, women`s groups, students, and unemployed workers make up the Green Movement's base; with student groups and committees at major universities comprising the movement`s core organizational body. Third, an often overlooked and unacknowledged factor that eventually leads to brain drain is Iran`s rigorous university entrance exams known as concoors that secure high school graduates a seat at national state-sponsored universities. 15 But since the available seats are limited, this means that on average only ten to twelve percent of applicants gain entry, leaving the rest behind who then join others who failed previous years` entry exams.16 Thus if they can afford, many students who fail the concour opt for leaving Iran to pursue their education mostly in European countries, the United States, Canada, and in the past decade Australia. Even those who are admitted to the universities have become increasingly frustrated with Islamization of the higher education institutions both in terms of the curricula and social environment, inadequate faculty and staff, lack of institutional support for research, and repression of students` freedom of expression and exchange of ideas in academia. Iranian students` presence in Iran`s democracy movement predates the revolution. But students` presence in Iran`s democratic movement in the past two decades has intensified, with their increasing disillusion about the Islamic government`s objectives, direction, and repressive strategies to govern--the latest being the Iranian government`s violent confrontation with student protests in December 2009.17 The level and intensity of students` dissatisfaction with and opposition to the government`s handling issues of both academic and social concern has reached an alarming level, and a government official recently acknowledged that according to the existing data, 70 percent of students voted against Ahmadinejad alluding to the controversial presidential election in 2009 that led to the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, many believing it was rigged with fraud (Rooz Online, 2009). According to a United Nations report since the controversial June 2009 presidential election and ensuing bloody street violence more than 4,200 Iranians, although not all necessarily students, have applied for refugee status worldwide. But there are indications that students comprise a sizeable portion of this refugee population.

physicians, mostly with a specialty were practicing in the United States alone. At the same time, of a total of 7,800 practicing physicians in Iran only 2,087 had a specialty (Joorabchi, 1973: 44). 15 Adopted from the French word Concours that means examination. 16 On this issue also see Torbat (2002: 286-289). 17 For a brief chronology of earlier student opposition movements see Mahdi (1999) and Torbat (2002: 287288).


For instance, Hamid Dabashi, an Iranian American professor at Columbia University is quoted as saying that the level of inquiry by students in Iran who have contacted him and want to come overseas to study in 2009 is more than 20 times the rate of previous years, and that it is mind-boggling how many extremely accomplished young people are trying to come abroad (Stecklow and Fassihi, 2009).18 Finally, the restrictive government policies have also put Iranian academics in a bind, as the intellectual environment of Iranian universities has increasingly succumbed to the ongoing political crises and the government`s religious ideological control. In his brief analysis of the causes of Iran`s brain drain Kamyab (2007) provides a succinct account of this problem: Scholars and scientists feel excluded from decision making their expertise qualifies them for and believe their work is unappreciated. An Education Ministry official states that a large number of university scholars who go abroad on sabbaticals contact their home institutions requesting unpaid leave: a tacit way of acknowledging they intend to stay abroad. Officials attribute this to lack of resources, including insufficient research facilities and laboratories, a lack of new books and access to education websites as well as low salaries. The above-explained factors no doubt play a significant role in the emigration of educated and skilled Iranian. But it would be a simplistic and ahistorical analysis if we assume that decisions by individuals and governmental/institutional agents and groups in the periphery are made independent of global forces that often put limitations on, and dictate the course and direction of development. But arguably Iran no-longer is located in the periphery and in the last two decades has been able to elevate her status and join the countries in the semi-periphery, signified by her level of advancement in scientific research and development, industrial design and production, and her relative ability and autonomy to navigate in a complex web of international political and economic relations. The world-system model postulates that as a country in transition Iran should be less susceptible to the domineering colonial and imperial core-periphery relations. 19 None-theless, Iran`s intransigence and desire to assert herself as a regional and global player has not been received well by Western powers and particularly the United States with vested interests in Southeast Asia`s natural resources and labor force. To allay Iran`s ambitions for an independent path for development, one of the tools used by the United States to force Iran and other so-called rogue nations" in the region to succumb to colonial interests, is the imposition of trade and economic sanctions. Starting with the Carter Administration in 1979, all U.S. administrations since then have used this punitive measure against the revolutionary regime without exception.20 In his analysis of the economic impact of trade and financial sanctions Torbat (2005) examines in detail the impact of U.S. non-oil and oil import sanctions; sanctions imposed on U.S. exports to Iran; and various forms of financial sanctions. Using several estimates by other


Although anecdotal, my own observation in a recent trip to Iran supports Dabashi`s statement: In December 2009 I was invited to give a talk to a group of students at Tehran University and asked for a show of hands about their interest to study abroad, particularly the United States--the response was almost unanimously affirmative! 19 I have earlier defined the core-periphery concepts in the theoretical section. 20 For a detailed chronology of U.S.-imposed sanctions against Iran up to 2002 see Torbat (2005, table 1: 410-411).


economists, he presents his own account of the trade and financial sanctions` adverse impact on Iranian economy. In brief, for the 2000-2001 period Torbat (op cit.: 425-26) estimates that the U.S.-imposed sanctions cost $777 million that amounted 2.7 percent of Iran`s $28 billion trade exports, or equal to 1.1 percent of her $70 billion GDP for the year 2000.21 He concludes that economic sanctions in the second half of the 1990s have been a significant hindrance to Iran`s economic growth that was averaging at the annual rate of 4.7 percent, but the political success of the sanctions has not been quite so notable, (432). Ironically, while the Iraq-Iran war and economic sanctions during the 1980s against Iran by the United States and other Western countries was aimed at undermining the Islamic Republic`s revolutionary national and regional objectives, it had an unexpected effect in that it forced Iranians to become more self-reliant by devoting greater resources to scientific research and technological advancement. A report on the state of scientific research in the world by Science-Metrix provides an eloquent narrative on this issue: After the Iraq-Iran war, the Islamic Republic experienced rapid growth in scientific production. In fact, Iran has demonstrated the fastest rate of growth of any country, including Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRIC countries). One has to look back to its conflict with Iraq to see what may have led to Iran`s intense pursuit of scientific research. During the conflict, Iraq had a major technological advantage, making extreme use of chemical warfare. Not only did the war cost Iran an estimated one million casualties, killed or wounded, but the country must have come to realize that it had few allies: more than 10 countries lent their support to Iraq but only a handful to Iran (Archambault, 2010: 5). The United States and other European countries have also used direct and indirect political pressures ranging from severing diplomatic ties with Iran, providing financial and ideological support for anti-regime opposition groups to expedite a regime change, and using the threat of military strikes and/or outright plans to invade and occupy the country in order to bring the non-complying Iranian regime to submission. But historical evidence suggests that even when a reformist faction in Iran has come to power with a more accommodating agenda toward the West and the U.S. interests, it has had minimal effect on the latter`s overall approach to foreign policy objectives in the region that aim at total domination and control of resources. In an opinion piece about trials and tribulations of Iran`s pro-democracy Green Movement in post-2009 presidential election Zarrabi (2010) points out the futility of democratic processes in Iran which dates back to the late 1990s: The original fire and turbulence in Iran's revolutionary mood began to show signs of moderation during Mr. Rafsanjani's presidency, and reached a state of relative equilibrium by the time Mohammad Khatami was elected President in 1997. Khatami, a reform minded moderate, was elected by a majority of 70% of the voters, reflecting the general attitude of the Iranian public. His proposal that the year 2001 be designated as the year for dialogue among civilizations was officially adopted by the United Nations. Hopes were then high that a


Torbat`s estimate is more on the conservative side, as other`s estimates for total economic damage to Iran range from low $750 million to as high as $2.6 billion/year, the latter amounting to 9.1 percent of Iran`s trade exports (op cit.: Table 3: 426).


rapprochement between the United States and Iran was underway. [But] just a few months after that, George W. Bush, in his State of the Union address, referred to Iran as a member of the international Axis of Evil and supporter of international terrorism. This was shortly after Iran had helped the United States in defeating the Taliban and in drafting Afghanistan's first Constitution, securing Hamid Karzai's government! Elsewhere, in examining the viability of establishing democratic processes that will provide the populace basic political and economic freedoms and human rights I have argued that there are too many internal and external structural impediments to allow the establishment of a civil society in Iran. This was a new project that surfaced in late 1980s and early 1990s promoted by Western donor countries and affiliated financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) as an alternative to radical ideologies and revolutionary processes of social change. In brief, this new project transformed the civil society concept into a neutral and allegedly nonideological pragmatic term for establishing democracy and promoting market-based economies in developing nations. The earlier reformist movement during Mohammad Khatami`s presidency (1997-2005) and the recent Green Movement are prime cases related to Iran, which have eventually become a recipe for failure (see Chaichian, 2003). However, these policies have had a clear outcome in Iran, in that they have backfired and further radicalized and galvanized various factions within the regime, a logical reaction when the only objective of political (and economic) pressures are to bring the regime down to its knees; which in return leaves no alternative for the government to close ranks, curtail individual rights and democratic freedoms, and clamp down on dissent.22 Related to brain drain, on the surface it appears that internal factors are the main variables that encourage emigration of the educated elite, but as I have discussed above, they operate under the influence of global economic, political and ideological pressures. Higher Education Costs in Iran and the United States One of the most common critiques of the brain drain process in both scholarly works and popular discussions of this issue is its negative and often disastrous outcomes for the sending country, while the host nation rips all the benefits not only in terms of utilizing the skills and educational talents but also the costs involved in educating each student on both sides.23 Since Iran`s educational system is predominantly government-sponsored


It is important to note that the September 11, 2001 fatal attacks on U.S. Financial and military institutions have vividly brought this point home. Although limited in scope and duration, the 9/11 event forced the United States, considered by conventional power consensus theorists as an example of the most successful liberal democracy in the world (see Mann, 1970: 423) to close ranks, curtail the most cherished democratic rights and individual freedoms of its citizens which have lasted to the present time (see Stephens, 2003). If an external threat with limited capability to do damage could have such an extensive impact on the American democracy, it is not hard to understand the reality of political repression in Iran and elsewhere, when they have to cope with real external economic, political, and military threats with much more extensive impact! 23 Examples of a more rigorous, scholarly works are Carrington and Detragiache, 1999; Murru, 2008; Rizvi, 2005; Torbat, 2002; and Wickramasekara, 2002. A plethora of bloggers and journalists have also


and supported by extensive subsidies it is difficult to accurately calculate the per capita cost of education at different levels. For one thing, except for for-profit private schools that are tuition-driven, all state-sponsored k-12 schools and universities in Iran are tuition free. What is more, students who pass the nation-wide concours" not only pay no tuition, their room and board is also free of charge.24 In contrast, based on one estimate the average student enrolled in American public schools in 2006 could expect to have about $100,000 spent on his or her k-12 education (Lips, 2006). During the same year Nate Johnson, associate director of Institutional Planning and Research at the University of Florida calculated the average transcript cost, or the tuition for a student at undergraduate level in the University of Florida system was $33,672 (Lederman, 2009).25 Adding them up, the total cost for 12 years of schooling and four years of education in an American state university in 2006 amounted to $133,672. A strong case can be made for the dollar amount saved by admitting educated foreign born immigrants, in this case from Iran. There are no available data for Iranian born population with tertiary education in the United States in 2006, but the census data indicate that in 1997 there were 165,000 Iranian born individuals 25 years or older with tertiary education in the United States (Torbat, 2002: 281, Table 2). If we adjust the 2006 estimate of $133, 672 for inflation in reverse, each Iranian born immigrant with tertiary education would have cost the United States $104,764.26 Thus the total cost for training 165,000 Iranian born college graduates in 1997 would have been $17.3 billion, a considerable savings for the United States and a loss for Iran. Moreover, Iranian born immigrants with graduate degrees provide even more savings for the American society. The case can be made for Iran-educated Iranian American physicians-- Iran`s state-run medical schools provide free education for those who pass the national concours, while the cost of medical school at the University of Florida system for the 2005-2006 academic year was a whopping $259,781 (Lederman, 2009). Conclusion: New Phase of Globalization, Brain Drain and Emergence of Diasporic Nationalism A distinct characteristic of the post-Fordist immigrant population is its peculiar form of nationalism and attachment to the source country`s culture and identity which clearly sets them apart from pre-1970 period immigrants. More clearly, the post-Fordist phase of global economy`s need for a highly mobile skilled labor force transcends extreme nationalistic sentiments that prescribed unconditional allegiance to the source country, or the conventional assimilationist theories that were based on immigrants` mechanical acceptance and adoption of host culture`s cultural values (Park and burgess, 1921; Gordon 1964). Instead, immigrants have substituted a more rigid politicalideological identity that was based on recognition of clear center-periphery divide with a

tackled the brain drain topic--here are some examples: Esfandiari, 2004; Javedanfar, 2008; Kamyab, 2007; Parker, 2004; Rafsanjani, 2007; and Stecklow, 2009. 24 In some state-run universities students are issued highly subsidized low-cost food tokens for daily meals, but that is the extent of their cost for higher education. 25 According to Lederman (2009) to calculate transcript costs the total number of credit hours students take are multiplied by the cost per credit hour, and then divided by the number of degrees awarded. 26 I adjusted the 2006 figure for a 3% inflation rate per year in reverse, arriving at the calculated cost of $104,764 for 1997.


new sense of national and cultural identity while navigating the host society`s new cultural environment. Iranian immigrants in the United States and elsewhere have become a part of this global diaspora who collectively share certain cultural values and ideals. Safran (1999: 365) defines diaspora as expatriate minority communities who: 1) have been dispersed from a specific original "center" to two or more" peripheral," or foreign, regions; 2) they retain a memory, vision, or myth about their original homeland-its physical location, history, and achievements;3) they believe that they are not-and perhaps cannot be fully accepted by their host country and therefore feel partly alienated and insulated from it; 4) they regard their ancestral home as their true, ideal home and as the place to which they or their descendants would (or should) eventually return-when conditions are appropriate;5) they believe that they should, collectively, be committed to the maintenance or restoration of their original homeland and to its safety and prosperity; and 6) they continue to relate, personally or vicariously, to that homeland in one way or another, and their ethno-communal consciousness and solidarity are importantly defined by the existence of such a relationship.

Related to Iranian immigrants in the United States, in her ethnographic study of Iranian immigrants and exiles in California Hoffman (1990: 285-287) concluded that Iranians had an eclectic, bi-cultural, and pluralistic approach to American culture, in that they adopted the host culture`s positive aspects while discarding or rejecting what they considered as negative cultural values. In an earlier study of cultural and national identity issues in a small community of highly educated first generation Iranians in Iowa my observations tend to also confirm Hoffman`s findings; that the majority of respondents were fully bilingual (fluent in Farsi and English), were receptive of the host society`s culture, yet determined to bring up their children based on Iranian cultural values (Chaichian, 1997: 618-622). This tendency has continued to the present time, as evidenced by two recent opinion polls of Iranian Americans in 2008 and 2009, whereby more than half of respondents indicated that their ethnic heritage is a very important factor in defining their identity in the United States (see Table 6).27 As is shown in Table 6, the majority of diasporic Iranian Americans are also concerned about Iran`s social and political environment indicated by their support of human rights and democracy. In his critique of new theories of globalization Rizvi (2005: 184) provides an interesting insight on this issue: The popular idea of brain drain appears to link, in an essentialist way, each person`s identity to one and only one nation, to which individuals are expected to display loyalty. Whether this idea is sustainable in an era of globalization is highly questionable, as it is the notion that it is only possible to make a contribution to the development of a nation by being located within its physical boundaries. This is a fundamentally misguided way of looking at transnational mobility in the global era.


This study however does not distinguish between Iran born immigrants and those who have been born in the United States.


Table 6. Attachment of Iranian Americans to their Home Country, 2009 Issue 2008

Importance of their ethnic heritage in defining their identity Level at which they follow news from Iran The most important issue related to U.S.-Iran relations Very important (56) Very closely (41) 1. Promotion of human rights and democracy in Iran (70)

Response Level (%) 2009

Very important (55) Very closely (50) 1. Promotion of human rights and democracy in Iran (72)

Source: Table constructed based on in formation in Zogby International (2008: 13-22, and 2009: 17-20).

In the last decade Iranian Americans have formed several organizations that are mostly established by the educated and professional middle- and upper class Iranians, and are geared toward promotion of Iranian culture and instilling national and ethnic pride, economic and political interests, with some also dealing with cases of prejudice and discrimination.28 The latest of such effort is a campaign launched by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) aimed at mobilizing Iranian Americans to participate in the 2010 census. In an interview the organization`s director sees the campaign as much a matter of pride as it is an effort to gain information about the Iranian-American community. She further states that even Iranian Americans who grew up in the United States will go to the trouble of filling in Iranian` instead of simply checking the White` box including the second generation Iranians, the majority of whom have been born and raised in the United States ( 2010). Thus, unlike other protected minority groups that often use their group/ethnic identity as a protective shield against the majority groups` discriminatory practices, Iranians insist on preservation and promotion of their Iranianness as a part of their diasporic identity. In her study of Iranian Americans in southern California Mostofi (2003: 688-689) concludes that: Iranianness, as a diasporic creation, has not maintained nationalistic characteristics in the sense that it does not correlate with the contemporary nationalism expressed in Iran. In diaspora, the flag, national anthem, and political consciousness are all drastically different than those in Iran. Iranian immigrants have not only become U.S. citizens, but they are also outside the realms of Iranian nation-state authority. Thus, Iranianness can be understood as a collective identity that is devoid of a physical location (like a nation) but that incorporates the memories of a homeland along with its geography and history, as well as the process of immigration and experiences in a new country. In this paper I have examined the issue of brain drain as it pertains to Iranian immigrants in the last three decades, a period which David Harvey (1991) has identified


Of note, are the National Iranian American Council (NIOC), Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), and Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC).


as the post-Fordist flexible accumulation phase of globalization. I have tried to document the complexity of center-periphery relations which direct and often dictate the parameters for a global brain drain. I have also argued that emigration in general and that of the educated elite in particular from Iran has led to the creation of an Iranian diaspora with its own peculiar culture based on a combination of individual-based, internationalist ethos and a collective nationalist sentiment that allows Iranian Americans to navigate in the post-Fordist global environment. References 2010. Looking for a Full Count in U.S. Census: Arab, Iranian-America Groups Try to Overcome Worries About 2010 Census," February 12. 436334.htm . Archambault, Eric. 2010. 30 years in Science: Secular Movements in Knowledge Creation. Science Metrixs. Alexandria, VA: Science-Metrix USA. Athanasiadis, Lason. 2009. After Sunday Clashes in Iran, Green Movement`s Supporters Take Stock, The Christian Science Monitor, December 29. . Arabia 2000. 2006. "IranGraduates- Brain Drain," April 23. Banuazizi, Ali. 1976. The Making of a Regional Power, in The Middle East: Oil, Conflict to Crisis, edited by A. L. Udovitch. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books. Beine, Michael; Docquier, Frederic; and Rapoport, Hillel. 2001. Brain Drain and Economic Growth: Theory and Evidence, Journal of Development Economics, Vol. 64: 275-289. Bhagwati, J.N.; and Hamada, K. 1974. The Brain Drain, International Integration of Markets for Professionals and Unemployment, Journal of Development Economics, 1(1): 19-42. Chaichian, Mohammad A. 1997. First Generation Iranian Immigrants and the Question of Cultural Identity: The Case of Iowa, International Migration Review, 31(3): 612-627 (Fall). ______. 2003. Structural Impediments of the Civil Society Project in Iran: National and Global Dimensions International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 44(1), 19-50. ______. 2008a. Town and Country in the Middle East: Iran and Egypt in the Transition to Globalization, 1800-1970. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.


______. 2008b. Getting Settled in the Heartland: Community Formation among Firstand Second-Generation Iranians in Iowa City, Iowa, in Richard C. Jones (ed.), Immigrants Outside Megalopolis: Ethnic Transformation in the Heartland, 213235. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Carrington, William, and Detragiache, Enrica. 1999. How Extensive is the Brain Drain?, Finance & Development, 36 (2), June. ______. 1998. "How Big Is the Brain Drain?" IMF Working Paper, 98/102 (Washington). Collier, Paul; Hoeffler, Anke; and Pattillo, Catherine. 2004. Africa`s Exodus: Capital Flight and the Brain Drain as Portfolio Decisions, Journal of African Economies, Vol. 13, Supplement 2. Commander, Simon; Kangasniemi, Mari; and L. Alan Winters. 2003. Brain Drain: Curse or Boone? Discussion paper No. 809. Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). Bonn, Germany. Dehghanpisheh, Babak. 2004. A One-Way Ticket, Newsweek (Atlantic edition), Volume 143, Issue 10 (March 8). Deutsche Welle. 2009. Nasl-e Now-ee az Tab'iidian-e Irani" (a New Generation of Iranians in Exile), April 12. 0,,4967148,00. html (in Farsi). Docquier, Frederic; and Rapoport, Hillel. 1997. "La Fuite des Cerveaux, Une Chance Pour les Pays en Development?" Meeting of the French Economic Association. Paris. Esfandiari, Golnaz. 2004. Iran: Coping with the World`s Highest Rate of Brain Drain, RFE/RL Radio, March 8. . Finlay, William, and coverdill, James E. 2002. Headhunters: Matchmaking in the Labor Market. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Frank, A. Gunder. 1980. Crisis in the World Economy. New york: Holmes and Meier Publishers. Gordon, Milton. 1964. Assimilation in American Life: The Role of Race, Religion and National Origins. New York: Oxford University Press. Hakimzadeh, Shirin. 2006. Iran: A Vast Diaspora Abroad and Millions of Refugees at Home, Migration Information Source (September): .


Hakimzadeh, Shirin and Dixon, David. 2006. Spotlight on the Iranian Foreign Born, Migration Information Source (June): Hoffman, D.M. 1990. Beyond Conflict: Culture, Self, and Intercultural Learning among Iranians in the United States, International Journal of Intercultural Relations,14: 275-299. Iran Daily. 2005a. Leaving for Greener Pastures," January 22. ______. 2005b. "Catching Up with Regional States," January 12. IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency). 2004. "Iran Ranks Second in Providing Asylum to Refugees: UNHCR," (June 17). Javedanfar, Meir. 2008. Iran`s Brain Drain Problem, Pajamasmedia, December 15, . Joorabchi, Bahman. 1973. Physician Migration: Brain Drain or Overflow? With Special Reference to the Situation in Iran, British Journal of Medical Education, 7: 4447. Kamyab, Shahrzad. 2007. Flying Brains: A Challenge Facing Iran today, International Educator, 47 (July/August). Khosravi, Fariborz. 2005. Head Hunting or Brain Drain, Fasl Namey-e Ketab, 5-6 (winter). . Lucas, R.E. 1988. On the Mechanics of Economic Development, Journal of Monetary Economics, 22(3): 3-42. Lederman, Doug. 2009. What Does a Degree cost? Inside Higher Education, May 19, . Lips, Dan. 2006. The Cost of American Education, The Heritage Foundation, September 15, . McIntosh, phyliss. 2004. Iranian-Americans Reported Among most highly Educated in U.S., Washington File, January 26, americans.html . Mahdi, Ali Akbar. 1999. The Student Movement in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Journal of Iranian Research and Analysis, 15(2): 5-32. Mann, Michael. 1970. The social Cohesion of Liberal Democracy, American


Sociological Review,35(3), 423-439 (June). Martin, Daniel c., and Hoefer, Michael. 2009. Refugees and Asylees: 2008. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics: Annual Flow Report (June). Molavi, Afshin. 2008. The Star Students of the Islamic Republic: Forget Harvard, one of the World`s Best Undergraduate Colleges is in Iran, Newsweek, August 1825. Mostashari, Ali, and Khodamhosseini, Ali. 2004. An Overview of Socioeconomic Characteristics of the Iranian-American Community Based on the 2000 U.S. Census." Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Iranian Studies Group at MIT. Mostofi, Nilou. 2003. Who We Are: The Perplexity of Iranian-American Identity, The Sociological Quarterly, 44(4), 682-703 (Automn). Mountford, A. 1997. Can a Brain Drain be Good for Growth in the Source Economy? Journal of Development Economics, 53(2), 287-303. Mullan, Fitzhugh. 2005. The Metrics of the Physician Brain Drain, The New England Journal of Medicine,353(17): 1810-1818 (October). Murro, Maurizio. 2008. Globalization, Migration and Brain Drain: A Reality Check, Health Policy and Development, 6(3): 153-163. Park, Robert, and Burgess, E. 1921. Introduction to the Science of Sociology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Parker, Randall. 2004. Iran Has highest Rate of Emigration Brain Drain, Parapundit, March 18, . Payvand. 2001. 220,000 Academics Leave Iran in One year, Brain Drain Rising- Moin Warns, May 2, . Peet, R., and Hartwick, E. 1999. Theories of Development. New York: Guilford Press. Portes, A. and J. Borocz. 1989. Contemporary Immigration: Theoretical Perspectives on Its Determinants and Modes of Incorporation, International Migration Review, 23(3): 606-630. Piketty, T. 1997. Statistics on International Migrations in OECD Countries. Paris: OECD Editions. Radio Zamaneh. 2010. Iranian Science Minister Spurns Secular` Professors, February 22. .


Rafsanjani, Nazanin. 2007. Iran Facing Dangerous Brain Drain, National Public Radio, January 15, . Rizvi, Fazal. 2005. Rethinking Brain Drain` in an Era of Globalization, Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 25(2): 175-192 (November). Rooz Online. 2009. 70 percent of University Students Oppose the government: Iranian Official (December 16). Safran, William. 1999. "Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return," Pp. 364- 380 in Migration, Diasporas and Trans-nationalism, edited by S. Vertovec and R. Cohen. Cheltenham, UK: Elgar Reference. Saidi, Farrokh. 2006. The Metrics of the Physician Brain Drain, Archives of Iranian Medicine, 9(4): 433-34 (October). Shoarmanesh, Sasan. 2009. On the Iranian Diaspora, Global Brief, http://www.globalbrief.cataolog/ 2009/11/01/on-the-Iranian-diaspora/ . Stecklow, Steve, and Fassihi, Farnaz. 2009. Thousands Flee Iran as Noose Tightens, the Wall Street Journal Online (December 11). SB126049484505086861.html . Stephens, Tom. 2003. Background of a Crisis: Civil liberties After September 11, Counterpunch (July 12). . Stiglitz, Joseph. E. 2002. Globalization and Its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Tale`ii, Javad. 2010. Gostaresh-e Ab`aad-e Farar-e Maghz-ha Az Iran (Increasing Dimensions of Brain Drain in Iran), Deursche Welle, February 22, http://www.,,5275042,00.html?maca=per-rss-per-all-1491-rdf (in Farsi). Thomas, Johnathan. 2006. The Dynamics of Globalization and the Uncertain Future of Iran: An Examination of Iranians in Dubai, The Flethcher School Online Journal for Issues Related to Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization (Alnakhlah). Tufts University, 1-9 (fall). Torbat, Akbar E. 2002. The Brain Drain from Iran to the United States, Middle East Journal, 56(2): 272-295. ______. 2005. Impacts of the US Trade and Financial Sanctions on Iran, The World Economy, 28(3): 407-434 (March).


United Nations. 2005. "International Migration Data and Statistics" (chapter 3). The Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, pp. 379-421. shared/shared/mainsite/ published_docs/books/wmr_sec03.pdf . Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1974. The Modern World System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World Economy in the Sixteenth Century. New york: Academic Press. Wickramasekara, Piyasiri. 2002. Policy Responses to Skilled Migration: Retention, Return, and Circulation. Social Protection Sector, International Migration Programme. Geneva: International Labor Office. Zarrabi, Kam. 2010. Sincere Advice Based on Precarious Assumptions: A Potentially Perilous Mixture, Intellectual Discourse, February 19. . Zogby International. 2008. 2008 National Public Opinion Survey of Iranian Americans. Commissioned by Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA). ______. 2009. 2009 National Public Opinion Survey of Iranian Americans. Commissioned by Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA).



According to one Iranian newspaper approximately 800,000 individuals join the labor force in Iran each year, of which about 300,000 are university graduates

27 pages

Report File (DMCA)

Our content is added by our users. We aim to remove reported files within 1 working day. Please use this link to notify us:

Report this file as copyright or inappropriate


Notice: fwrite(): send of 198 bytes failed with errno=104 Connection reset by peer in /home/ on line 531