The study used social media site LinkedIn to track the movement of professional people and is the first to monitor global migrations of professionals to the U.S.
Co-author Emilio Zagheni, a University of Washington assistant professor of sociology and fellow of the UW eScience Institute presented the study at the recent SocInfo conference in Barcelona, Spain.
While 27 percent of migrating professionals among the sample group chose the U.S. as a destination in 2000, in 2012 just 13 percent did.
The biggest drop was among those in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, from 37 to 15 percent.
Instead, all the brains are going to Asian countries which saw the highest increase in professional migrants worldwide, attracting a cumulative 26 percent in 2012, compared with just 10 percent in 2000.
Australia, Oceania, Africa and Latin America also saw an uptick in their share of the world’s professional migration flows.
The Land of the Free attracted 24 percent of graduates from the top 500 universities worldwide in 2000, but just 12 percent in 2012.
The US is still the top destination for migrations, but the study indicated that was something that should not be taken for granted.
The study suggests numerous possible reasons for the proportional migration decline including the US’s Byzantine style visa system, a greater demand for professionals in other countries, fewer opportunities for immigrants due to the dot-com collapse of the early 2000s and the 2008 recession.