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The Economic Impact of Medical Migration: An Overview of the Literature

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  • Martine Rutten

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of the evidence and applied literature on medical migration. The economic impacts of medical migration have been little researched, causing a polarisation in the debate between its critics and its proponents. The paucity of quantitative studies may be explained by the lack of comprehensive and consistent data. Investments in statistical resources on medical migration are therefore a major priority. The available evidence suggests that particularly English-speaking countries in Sub-Saharan African countries and the Caribbean with relatively few health workers and a high disease burden suffer most from the medical brain drain. However, the exodus of health workers is not the main cause of the health status crisis, but rather a symptom of deeper underlying problems, which often extend beyond the health sector towards the broader economic and political environment. In such situations, medical brain drain does pose challenges for human resource management and health service delivery. The only effective and long-term sustainable policy is one that addresses the underlying push and pull factors. Reforms have to be country-led, but may be supported via temporary migration schemes, remittances, enhancement of diaspora networks, and financial aid for which a strong moral case exists. Copyright 2009 The Author. Journal compilation 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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  • Martine Rutten, 2009. "The Economic Impact of Medical Migration: An Overview of the Literature," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(2), pages 291-325, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:32:y:2009:i:2:p:291-325
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ça?lar Özden & Maurice Schiff, 2006. "International Migration, Remittances, and the Brain Drain," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6929.
    2. Martine Rutten, 2009. "The Economic Impact of Medical Migration: A Receiving Country's Perspective," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(1), pages 156-171, February.
    3. Goldfarb, Robert & Havrylyshyn, Oli & Mangum, Stephen, 1984. "Can remittances compensate for manpower outflows : The case of Philippine physicians," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1-3), pages 1-17.
    4. Kangasniemi, Mari & Winters, L. Alan & Commander, Simon, 2007. "Is the medical brain drain beneficial? Evidence from overseas doctors in the UK," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(5), pages 915-923, September.
    5. L. Alan Winters & Terrie L. Walmsley & Zhen Kun Wang & Roman Grynberg, 2003. "Liberalising Temporary Movement of Natural Persons: An Agenda for the Development Round," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(8), pages 1137-1161, August.
    6. Paul F. CLARK & James B. STEWART & Darlene A. CLARK, 2006. "The globalization of the labour market for health-care professionals," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 145(1-2), pages 37-64, March.
    7. Samuel Munzele Maimbo & Dilip Ratha, 2005. "Remittances: Development Impact and Future Prospects," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7339.
    8. Hamilton, Bob & Whalley, John, 1984. "Efficiency and distributional implications of global restrictions on labour mobility : Calculations and policy implications," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 61-75.
    9. Pradip Bhatnagar, 2004. "Liberalising the Movement of Natural Persons: A Lost Decade?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 459-472, March.
    10. Connell, John & Zurn, Pascal & Stilwell, Barbara & Awases, Magda & Braichet, Jean-Marc, 2007. "Sub-Saharan Africa: Beyond the health worker migration crisis?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(9), pages 1876-1891, May.
    11. Walmsley, Terrie L. & Winters, L. Alan, 2005. "Relaxing the Restrictions on the Temporary Movement of Natural Persons: A Simulation Analysis," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 20, pages 688-726.
    12. Moses, Jonathon W. & Letnes, Bjorn, 2004. "The Economic Costs to International Labor Restrictions: Revisiting the Empirical Discussion," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1609-1626, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michel Grignon & Yaw Owusu & Arthur Sweetman, 2013. "The international migration of health professionals," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 4, pages 75-97 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Anghel, Remus Gabriel & Botezat, Alina & Cosciug, Anatolie & Manafi, Ioana & Roman, Monica, 2016. "International migration, return migration, and their effects. A comprehensive review on the Romanian case," MPRA Paper 75528, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Dec 2016.
    3. Driouchi, Ahmed, 2015. "New Health Technologies and Health Workforce in Developing Economies," MPRA Paper 67775, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Martine Rutten, 2009. "The Economic Impact of Medical Migration: A Receiving Country's Perspective," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(1), pages 156-171, February.
    5. Boncea Irina, 2013. "Medical Brain Drain - A Theoretical Approach," Annals of Faculty of Economics, University of Oradea, Faculty of Economics, vol. 1(1), pages 64-71, July.
    6. Pavel Yakovlev & Tanner Steinkopf, 2014. "Can Economic Freedom Cure Medical Brain Drain?," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 29(Fall 2014), pages 97-117.
    7. Jacques Poot & Anna Strutt, 2010. "International Trade Agreements and International Migration," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(12), pages 1923-1954, December.
    8. Rutten, Martine, 2008. "Medical migration : what can we learn from the UK's perspective ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4593, The World Bank.
    9. Andrew Sharpe & Simon Lapointe, 2011. "The Labour Market and Economic Performance of Canada’s First Nations Reserves: The Effect of Educational Attainment and Remoteness," CSLS Research Reports 2011-05, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    10. Okeke, Edward N., 2013. "Brain drain: Do economic conditions “push” doctors out of developing countries?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 169-178.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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