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Testing the ‘brain gain’ hypothesis: Micro evidence from Cape Verde

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  • Batista, Catia
  • Lacuesta, Aitor
  • Vicente, Pedro C.

Abstract

Does emigration really drain human capital accumulation in origin countries? This paper explores a unique household survey designed and conducted to answer this research question. We analyze the case of Cape Verde, a country with allegedly the highest ‘brain drain’ in Africa, despite a marked record of income and human capital growth in recent decades. We propose the first explicit test of ‘brain drain’ arguments, according to which the prospects of own future migration can positively impact educational attainment. Our most conservative estimates using individual specific variation in economic conditions at the destination indicate that a 10 pp increase in the probability of own future migration improves the probability of completing intermediate secondary schooling by nearly 4 pp for individuals who do not migrate before age 16. These findings are robust to the choice of instruments and econometric specification. Counterfactual simulations point to significant human capital gains from lowering migration barriers.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:97:y:2012:i:1:p:32-45
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2011.01.005
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Brain drain; Brain gain; International migration; Human capital; Effects of emigration in origin countries; Sub-Saharan Africa;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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