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The brain drain: a review of theory and facts

Author

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  • Simon Commander
  • Mari Kangasniemi
  • L. Alan Winters

Abstract

Skilled migration has increased in recent years, often stimulated by the explicit use of targeted visa programmes by developed countries. This paper examines the available analytical and empirical literature on the brain drain to try and understand better whether skille migration from developing countries must always be harmful to the country of origin. We show that early generation models – mostly dating to the 1970s – found that such migration would be harmful, mostly though the impact on wages and employment, as well as through fiscal costs. A more recent literature has argued that a beneficial brain drain can arise if migration has educational externatilities. As human capital rises, growth will also be positively affected. However, we show that if screening is applied such benefits may disappear or become smaller. Recent empirical work on the health and software sectors provides some contrasting evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Commander & Mari Kangasniemi & L. Alan Winters, 2004. "The brain drain: a review of theory and facts," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 47(1), pages 29-44.
  • Handle: RePEc:bxr:bxrceb:y:2004:v:47:i:1:p:29-44
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Frédéric Docquier & B. Lindsay Lowell & Abdeslam Marfouk, 2009. "A Gendered Assessment of Highly Skilled Emigration," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 35(2), pages 297-321.
    2. Ferrall, Christopher & Natalia, Mishagina, 2009. "Should I Stay or Should I Go…North? First Job Location of U.S. Trained Doctorates 1957-2005," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2009-33, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 22 Jun 2009.
    3. Frederic, DOCQUIER & B. Lindsay, LOWELL & Abdeslam, MARFOUK, 2007. "A gendered assessment of the brain drain," Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) 2007045, Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques.
    4. Abdeslam Marfouk, 2007. "Brain Drain in Developing Countries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(2), pages 193-218, June.
    5. Daniela Federici & Marilena Giannetti, 2010. "Temporary Migration and Foreign Direct Investment," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 293-308, April.
    6. Docquier,Frederic & Marfouk,Abdeslam, 2004. "Measuring the international mobility of skilled workers (1990-2000) : release 1.0," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3381, The World Bank.
    7. Docquier, Frédéric & Lohest, Olivier & Marfouk, Abdeslam, 2005. "Brain Drain in Developing Regions (1990-2000)," IZA Discussion Papers 1668, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    skilled migration; educational externalities; growth;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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