December 29, 2011 9:31AM

U.S. Falling Behind in Global Competition for Human Capital

A powerful trend in today’s more globalized world is the growing competition among nations to attract and keep human capital — people with the skills and education necessary to make a modern, open, market economy hum.

Nobody has done a better job of describing this phenomenon than British journalist Robert Guest in his new book, Borderless Economics: Chinese Sea Turtles, Indian Fridges, and the New Fruits of Global Capitalism, just out from Palgrave Macmillan.

Guest is the business editor of the Economist magazine. He’s traveled widely in the United States and across the world. He has a keen understanding of the market forces shaping the global economy today, as well as a reporter’s eye for interesting people, places, and companies that tell the story.

The author summarized Borderless Economics in a recent Wall Street Journal op‐​ed, and the book was favorably reviewed in the same newspaper this week. The reviewer, Katherine Mangu‐​Ward of Reason magazine, highlighted an immediate application of the book’s thesis to U.S. immigration policy:

Mr. Guest notes that the U.S. annually awards only 85,000 H-1B visas for highly skilled workers; more than that number have been known to apply on the first day that applications can be submitted. America is strong because it has long been the nation richest in the resource that matters most: talent. Yet the U.S. government every year turns away tens of thousands of the most talented, motivated people in the world.

The Cato Institute hosted a book forum for Robert Guest in November, with comments from Edward Alden of the Council on Foreign Relations. You can view the event here.