With the U.S. having the second highest proportion of immigrants to total population in the G8, people from overseas inevitably play an important role in many industries. But a study has found that immigrants are particularly vital to pharmaceutical production and distribution, with people born outside the U.S. accounting for more than one-quarter of the total workforce.
Shaun Michel and Dr. James Witte of the Institute for Immigration Research at George Mason University calculated the figure in a paper analyzing the role of immigrants in the pharmaceutical industry. Across the industry as a whole, immigrants--who account for 14% of the U.S. population--make up 17% of the workforce. The proportion of immigrants in pharmaceutical production and distribution is higher still, with 26% of all positions occupied by people from outside the U.S.
Certain sectors of drug production are particularly reliant on immigrants. One-third of all packaging and filling machine operators are immigrants, as are 28% of production workers. Immigrants also make up 28% of the inspector and tester workforce and are even more important to R&D. Michel and Witte calculate that 43% of medical scientists are immigrants. Other tasks employ a higher percentage of people born in the U.S., with just 23% of front-line supervisor jobs being held by immigrants.
The list of birthplaces of people working in the pharmaceutical sector is dominated by emerging markets, with India and China accounting for one-quarter of all immigrants employed by the industry. South and Central America and Eastern Europe are also well represented.