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Eight Questions about Brain Drain

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  • John Gibson
  • David McKenzie

Abstract

The term "brain drain" dominates popular discourse on high-skilled migration, and for this reason, we use it in this article. However, as Harry Johnson noted, it is a loaded phrase implying serious loss. It is far from clear that such a loss actually occurs in practice; indeed, there is an increasing recognition of the possible benefits that skilled migration can offer both for migrants and for sending countries. This paper builds upon a recent wave of empirical research to answer eight key questions underlying much of the brain drain debate: 1) What is brain drain? 2) Why should economists care about it? 3) Is brain drain increasing? 4) Is there a positive relationship between skilled and unskilled migration? 5) What makes brain drain more likely? 6) Does brain gain exist? 7) Do high-skilled workers remit, invest, and share knowledge back home? 8) What do we know about the fiscal and production externalities of brain drain?

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.25.3.107
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 25 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 107-28

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:3:p:107-28

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.25.3.107
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  1. Bhagwati, Jagdish & Hamada, Koichi, 1974. "The brain drain, international integration of markets for professionals and unemployment : A theoretical analysis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-42, April.
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  3. Docquier, Frédéric & Rapoport, Hillel, 2011. "Globalization, Brain Drain and Development," IZA Discussion Papers 5590, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  7. John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2009. "The Microeconomic Determinants of Emigration and Return Migration of the Best and Brightest: Evidence from the Pacific," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0903, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  8. McKenzie, David & Rapoport, Hillel, 2007. "Self-selection patterns in Mexico-U.S. migration : the role of migration networks," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4118, The World Bank.
  9. Bhargava, Alok & Docquier, Frédéric & Moullan, Yasser, 2011. "Modeling the effects of physician emigration on human development," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 172-183, March.
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  16. John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2012. "The Economic Consequences of ‘Brain Drain’ of the Best and Brightest: Microeconomic Evidence from Five Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(560), pages 339-375, 05.
  17. David McKenzie & Hillel Rapoport, 2011. "Can migration reduce educational attainment? Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 1331-1358, October.
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  21. Ozden, Caglar & Parsons, Christopher R. & Schiff, Maurice & Walmsley, Terrie L., 2011. "Where on earth is everybody ? the evolution of global bilateral migration 1960-2000," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5709, The World Bank.
  22. Alok Bhargava & Frédéric Docquier, 2008. "HIV Pandemic, Medical Brain Drain, and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 22(2), pages 345-366, May.
  23. Desai, Mihir A. & Kapur, Devesh & McHale, John & Rogers, Keith, 2009. "The fiscal impact of high-skilled emigration: Flows of Indians to the U.S," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 32-44, January.
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