Indians may be a small part of the US population, but have a significant economic impact. Indian Americans pay about 5-6 per cent of all income taxes in the US despite making up just 1.5 per cent of the country’s population, a new report has shown. The 5.1 million strong Indian diaspora pays approximately $250-300 billion in income taxes in the US, and has significantly enhanced its economic competitiveness over the years, as per the report brought out by Indiaspora and Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Around 70% of Indian Americans are US citizens.  

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Vertex Pharma’s Reshma Kewalramani (the first female CEO of a US biotech major) are among the 16 Indian origin CEOs who head Fortune 500 companies. These leaders collectively employ 2.7 million Americans and generate nearly $1 trillion in revenue between them, the report estimates.

Indians are not just at the driving seat of large American businesses, but also make their presence felt in the startup world. Indians have co-founded 72 out of 648 US unicorns operating as of 2024. These companies employ over 55,000 people and are valued at $195 billion.

“From leading largest enterprises and founding new companies, to employing millions of people across all states, the financial influence of the Indian diaspora shows the determination of individuals who overcame challenges to make meaningful contributions to their new home,” the report notes.

Academic values

As India attempts to build a knowledge economy at home, the Indian diaspora’s focus on academic values stands out. Around 78% of Indian Americans have a bachelor’s degree or higher, outpacing the US national average of 36%. Approximately 22,000 faculty members or 2.6 per cent of the full-time faculty at American universities are of Indian descent. Additionally, Indian Americans also hold critical leadership positions of deans, chancellors, presidents and the like in 70 per cent of the top 50 US colleges.

They are also contributing to America’s research, innovation and academia. Between 1975 and 2019, the share of US patents with Indian origin innovators jumped from around 2% to 10%. In 2023, research groups with scientists of Indian origin claimed about 11% of all NIH grants and contributed to 13% of scientific publications.

Policy influence

The influence of the Indian diaspora extends to the US government and global policy making. Roughly 150 Indian Americans hold notable positions in the Federal administration in the US as of 2023 including the country’s Vice President Kamala Harris. With Ajay Banga as World Bank’s new president, Indian Americans are also redefining developmental economics and shaping global policies, the report says.

The strides made by Indians in the US also impacts lives in the home country. In addition to contributing over $1.5 billion to philanthropy in the US, Indian diaspora are also supporting causes in India. The report notes that around $830 million donations came into India from the US in 2018-19 making up 35% of all donations into the country.

However, the community is not without its share of challenges. Around 6% of Indian Americans are below the poverty line as of 2020, and an estimated 14% were undocumented in 2021, the report said.