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Eight Questions about Brain Drain

Listed author(s):
  • John Gibson
  • David McKenzie

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

Volume (Year): 25 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 107-128

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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
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/jep/
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  1. 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.
  2. Albert Bollard & David McKenzie & Melanie Morten & Hillel Rapoport, 2011. "Remittances and the Brain Drain Revisited: The Microdata Show That More Educated Migrants Remit More," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 25(1), pages 132-156, May.
  3. Eliakim Katz & Hillel Rapoport, 2005. "On human capital formation with exit options," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 18(2), pages 267-274, 06.
  4. Caglar Ozden & Christopher R. Parsons & Maurice Schiff & Terrie L. Walmsley, 2011. "Where on Earth is Everybody? The Evolution of Global Bilateral Migration 1960-2000," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 25(1), pages 12-56, May.
  5. Cécily Defoort, 2008. "Tendances de long terme des migrations internationales : analyse à partir des six principaux pays receveurs," Population (french edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 63(2), pages 317-351.
  6. Frédéric Docquier & Hillel Rapoport, 2012. "Globalization, Brain Drain, and Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(3), pages 681-730, September.
  7. Michael A. Clemens, 2009. "Skill Flow: A Fundamental Reconsideration of Skilled-Worker Mobility and Development," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2009-08, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), revised Apr 2009.
  8. David McKenzie & Hillel Rapoport, 2010. "Self-Selection Patterns in Mexico-U.S. Migration: The Role of Migration Networks," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 811-821, November.
  9. Gibson, John & McKenzie, David, 2011. "The microeconomic determinants of emigration and return migration of the best and brightest: Evidence from the Pacific," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 18-29, May.
  10. Michel Beine & Frédéric Docquier & Hillel Rapoport, 2007. "Measuring International Skilled Migration: A New Database Controlling for Age of Entry," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(2), pages 249-254, June.
  11. Javorcik, Beata S. & Özden, Çaglar & Spatareanu, Mariana & Neagu, Cristina, 2011. "Migrant networks and foreign direct investment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 231-241, March.
  12. Antonio Spilimbergo, 2009. "Democracy and Foreign Education," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 528-543, March.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Dilip Ratha & Sonia Plaza, 2011. "Diaspora for Development in Africa," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2295, September.
  16. 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.
  17. Abdeslam Marfouk, 2007. "Brain Drain in Developing Countries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(2), pages 193-218, June.
  18. Mattoo, Aaditya & Neagu, Ileana Cristina & Özden, Çaglar, 2008. "Brain waste? Educated immigrants in the US labor market," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 255-269, October.
  19. 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.
  20. World Bank, 2011. "Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011 : Second Edition," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2522, September.
  21. David McKenzie & Hillel Rapoport, 2011. "Can migration reduce educational attainment? Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(4), pages 1331-1358, October.
  22. 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.
  23. Kugler, Maurice & Rapoport, Hillel, 2007. "International labor and capital flows: Complements or substitutes?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 155-162, February.
  24. Michael Clemens, 2007. "Do Visas Kill? Health Effects of African Health Professional Emigration," Working Papers 114, Center for Global Development.
  25. Jasso, Guillermina & Rosenzweig, Mark R., 2008. "Selection Criteria and the Skill Composition of Immigrants: A Comparative Analysis of Australian and U.S. Employment Immigration," IZA Discussion Papers 3564, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  26. Grogger, Jeffrey & Hanson, Gordon H., 2011. "Income maximization and the selection and sorting of international migrants," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 42-57, May.
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