Doctors diagnose their destination: an analysis of the length of employment abroad for Hong Kong doctors
Much contemporary skilled international migration involves the transient movement of skills between a migrant's country of origin and the destination. This paper shows that international circulation amongst Hong Kong doctors is neither new nor random. A survey of Hong Kong doctors with overseas work experience was undertaken by the authors to examine the factors influencing the length of employment overseas and the propensity to return. Statistical analysis of the results indicates that holding a foreign passport, previous overseas training, and the country of destination were key factors in determining the length of residence abroad and propensity to return to Hong Kong. In the light of the changing importance for Hong Kong professionals of obtaining residency rights abroad, and given the widely varying immigration policies of the main destination countries in relation to issues such as recognition of Hong Kong qualifications, it is suggested that professional groups such as doctors choose their migration destinations in line with a predetermined migration strategy for either temporary emigration or for longer-term resettlement overseas. The survey results are of wider significance in the understanding of changing patterns of skill exchange involving the upper echelons of the populations of newly industrialising countries.