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The brain drain, 'educated unemployment', human capital formation, and economic betterment

  • C. Simon Fan
  • Oded Stark

Extending both the 'harmful brain drain' literature and the 'beneficial brain gain' literature, this paper analyzes both the negative and the positive impact of migration by skilled individuals in a unified framework. The paper extends the received literature on the 'harmful brain drain' by showing that in the short run, international migration can result in 'educated unemployment' and overeducation in developing countries, as well as a brain drain from these countries. A simulation suggests that the costs of 'educated unemployment' and overeducation can amount to significant losses for the individuals concerned, who may constitute a substantial proportion of the educated individuals. Adopting a dynamic framework, it is then shown that due to the positive externality effect of the prevailing, economy-wide endowment of human capital on the formation of human capital, a relaxation in migration policy in both the current period and the preceding period can facilitate 'take-off' of a developing country in the current period. Thus, it is suggested that while the migration of some educated individuals may reduce the social welfare of those who stay behind in the short run, it improves it in the long run. Copyright (c) 2007 The Authors Journal compilation (c) 2007 The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development .

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Article provided by The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in its journal Economics of Transition.

Volume (Year): 15 (2007)
Issue (Month): (October)
Pages: 629-660

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Handle: RePEc:bla:etrans:v:15:y:2007:i::p:629-660
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  1. Acemoglu, Daron, 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 1707, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Murphy, Kevin M. & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1989. "Industrialization and the Big Push," Scholarly Articles 3606235, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Stark, Oded & Helmenstein, Christian & Prskawetz, Alexia, 1997. "A brain gain with a brain drain," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 227-234, August.
  4. Pritchett, Lant, 1995. "Divergence, big time," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1522, The World Bank.
  5. Stark, Oded & Wang, Yong, 2002. "Inducing human capital formation: migration as a substitute for subsidies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 29-46, October.
  6. Azariadis, Costas & Drazen, Allan, 1990. "Threshold Externalities in Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 501-26, May.
  7. Stark, Oded & Fan, C. Simon, 2006. "International Migration and "Educated Unemployment"," Discussion Papers 7126, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  8. Howard Davies, 2005. "Trade in the Chinese 21st Century," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 6(1), pages 1-13, January.
  9. Oded Stark & Christian Helmenstein & Alexia Prskawetz, 1998. "Human Capital Depletion, Human Capital Formation, and Migration: A Blessing in a "Curse"?," Departmental Working Papers _096, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Economics.
  10. Eric A. Hanushek, 1996. "Measuring Investment in Education," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 9-30, Fall.
  11. Stark, Oded, 2004. "Rethinking the Brain Drain," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 15-22, January.
  12. Boucher, Steve & Stark, Oded & Taylor, J. Edward, 2005. "A Gain with a Drain? Evidence from Rural Mexico on the New Economics of the Brain Drain," Working Papers 190907, University of California, Davis, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  13. Nachum Sicherman, 1987. "Over-Education in the Labor Market," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 48, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  14. Galor, Oded & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1996. "Income Distribution and Growth: The Kuznets Hypothesis Revisited," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages S103-17, Suppl..
  15. Michel Beine & Frédéric Docquier & Hillel Rapoport, 2001. "Brain drain and economic growth: theory and evidence," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/10449, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  16. Oded Stark, 2005. "The New Economics of the Brain Drain," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 6(2), pages 137-140, April.
  17. Fan, C. Simon, 2004. "Quality, trade, and growth," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 271-291, October.
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