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Brain Drain or Brain Gain?Micro Evidence from an African Success Story

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  • Catia Batista
  • Pedro C. Vicente

Abstract

Does emigration really drain human capital accumulation in origin countries? This paper explores a unique household survey designed and conducted to answer this specific question for the case of Cape Verde - the sub-Saharan African country with the largest fraction of tertiary-educated population living abroad, despite also having a fast-growing stock of human capital. Unlike previous literature, the ideal characteristics of our tailored survey allow us to explicitly test brain gain arguments according to which the possibility of own future emigration positively contributes to educational attainment in the origin country. In particular, we introduce a new method to estimate this effect by using full histories of current and return migrants (which enable controlling for migrant selection on unobservables), and a new set of exclusion restrictions both at the regional and household levels. Our results are robust to the inclusion of controls for remittances, family disruption, and general equilibrium effects of emigration. In constructing a counterfactual distribution of skills to answer our research question, we combine the survey data with information from censuses of the destination countries to account for the characteristics of the labour force that is (permanent and temporarily) lost due to emigration. Our results point to commonly used brain drain figures to be significantly exaggerated, whereas there may be substantial brain gains from allowing free migration and encouraging return migration.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 343.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2007
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:343

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Keywords: Brain Drain; Brain Gain; International Migration; Human Capital; Effects of Emigration in Origin Countries; Household Survey; Cape Verde; Sub-Saharan Africa;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Batista, Catia & Lacuesta, Aitor & Vicente, Pedro C., 2012. "Testing the ‘brain gain’ hypothesis: Micro evidence from Cape Verde," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 32-45.
  2. Karin Mayr & Giovanni Peri, 2009. "Brain Drain and Brain Return: Theory and Application to Eastern-Western Europe," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0911, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  3. Simona Monteleone, 2009. "Brain drain e crescita economica: Una rassegna critica sugli effetti prodotti," Working Papers 2_2009, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
  4. Kristina A. Schapiro, 2009. "Migration and Educational Outcomes of Children," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2009-57, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), revised Oct 2009.
  5. Simona Monteleone & Benedetto Torrisi, 2010. "A micro data analysis of Italy’s brain drain," Discussion Papers 4_2010, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
  6. Antman, Francisca M., 2012. "The Impact of Migration on Family Left Behind," IZA Discussion Papers 6374, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Satish Chand & Michael A. Clemens, 2008. "Skilled emigration and skill creation: A quasi-experiment," International and Development Economics Working Papers idec08-05, International and Development Economics.
  8. Monteleone, Simona & Torrisi, Benedetto, 2010. "A Micro Data Analisys Of Italy’s Brain Drain," MPRA Paper 20995, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Docquier, Frederic & Faye, Ousmane & Pestieau, Pierre, 2008. "Is migration a good substitute for education subsidies ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4614, The World Bank.
  10. Daniela Federici & Marilena Giannetti, 2010. "Temporary Migration and Foreign Direct Investment," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 293-308, April.
  11. Lutz Schneider & Alexander Kubis & D. Wiest, 2010. "Selektivität, soziale Bindung und räumliche Mobilität –Eine Analyse der Rückkehrpräferenz," IWH Discussion Papers 17, Halle Institute for Economic Research.

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