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The Economic Consequences of "Brain Drain" of the Best and Brightest: Microeconomic Evidence from Five Countries

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Author Info

  • Gibson, John

    ()
    (University of Waikato)

  • McKenzie, David

    ()
    (World Bank)

Abstract

Brain drain has long been a common concern for migrant-sending countries, particularly for small countries where high-skilled emigration rates are highest. However, while economic theory suggests a number of possible benefits, in addition to costs, from skilled emigration, the evidence base on many of these is very limited. Moreover, the lessons from case studies of benefits to China and India from skilled emigration may not be relevant to much smaller countries. This paper presents the results of innovative surveys which tracked academic high-achievers from five countries to wherever they moved in the world in order to directly measure at the micro level the channels through which high-skilled emigration affects the sending country. The results show that there are very high levels of emigration and of return migration among the very highly skilled; the income gains to the best and brightest from migrating are very large, and an order of magnitude or more greater than any other effect; there are large benefits from migration in terms of postgraduate education; most high-skilled migrants from poorer countries send remittances; but that involvement in trade and foreign direct investment is a rare occurrence. There is considerable knowledge flow from both current and return migrants about job and study opportunities abroad, but little net knowledge sharing from current migrants to home country governments or businesses. Finally, the fiscal costs vary considerably across countries, and depend on the extent to which governments rely on progressive income taxation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5124.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Journal, 2012, 122 (560), 339 - 375
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5124

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Keywords: brain gain; highly skilled migration; brain drain;

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References

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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. The Economic Consequences of â??Brain Drainâ?
    by Ariel Goldring in Free Market Mojo on 2010-09-05 12:16:06
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Cited by:
  1. Yaw Nyarko, 2011. "The Returns to the Brain Drain and Brain Circulation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Some Computations Using Data from Ghana," NBER Working Papers 16813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2011. "Eight Questions about Brain Drain," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1111, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  3. Bénassy, Jean-Pascal & Brezis, Elise S., 2013. "Brain drain and development traps," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 15-22.
  4. Franzoni, Chiara & Scellato, Giuseppe & Stephan, Paula, 2014. "The mover’s advantage: The superior performance of migrant scientists," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 89-93.
  5. Sona Schovankova, 2013. "Determinants of the Spatial Distribution of Foreign Empolyees on Different Skilled Positions: The Case of the Czech Republic," DANUBE: Law and Economics Review, European Association Comenius - EACO, issue 2, pages 115-139, June.
  6. Commander, Simon & Nikolaychuk, Olexandr & Vikhrov, Dmytro, 2013. "Migration from Ukraine: Brawn or Brain? New Survey Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 7348, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Kuschminder, Katie & Siegel, Melissa, 2012. "Highly skilled temporary return, technological change and Innovation: The Case of the TRQN Project in Afghanistan," MERIT Working Papers 017, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  8. Poot, Jacques & Roskruge, Matthew, 2013. "Internationalisation of Education and Returns in the Labour Market," IZA Discussion Papers 7696, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2013. "Scientific Mobility and Knowledge Networks in High Emigration Countries: Evidence from the Pacific," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1305, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  10. Ruxanda Berlinschi & Jeroen Schokkaert & Johan F.M. Swinnen, 2010. "When Drains and Gains Coincide: Migration and International Football Performance," LICOS Discussion Papers 26510, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.

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