Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Suthathip Yaisawarng




Asia, inequality, migration, innovation, immgration


In recent years, governments around the world have shown increasing concerns about brain drain, the shift in human intelligence of many of their best educated citizens from developing countries to developed countries, as it causes negative effects on social and economic sectors of the source country. Nonetheless, Kuhn and McAusland (2006) argue that talent might often be wasted at home; migration to more supportive environments raises global innovation. Saxenian (2003) finds that gains may flow back to the developing country via returnees with enhanced skills, personal connections, and ideas for innovation. This thesis studies the causes of immigration. The study focuses on migrants from South East Asian countries to 50 states in United States excluding District of Columbia. Using a sample from the American Community Survey of people living in the United States, together with the source country data from World Development Indicator, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Labor Statistics, International Labor Organization, and Heritage Foundation, this thesis constructs a gravity model of immigration to analyze the factors affecting the immigration flow. The dependent variable of the model is the number of immigrants flowing into each of the 50 states from each of the 8 source countries. The result shows that for high-skilled immigrants, GDP per capita differentials between U.S. states and the source country, the political factor, population of both the U.S. and the source country, the distance between the destination and the origin, as well as the corruption freedom index have a positive influence on the immigration flow. On the other hand, income inequality in the U.S. has a negative effect on the immigration flow, suggesting that the immigration flow looks for a more socially balanced lifestyle. This thesis also suggests that the source country’s government implement changes to improve the gender inequality as well as the income inequality to mitigate the outflow of residents.