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Human capital, migration strategy, and brain drain


  • Peter Schaeffer


This research was motivated by the increasing number of foreign students and scientists who are in the United States on temporary visas and who are able to change their status to permanent immigrant. Origin countries, among them industrialized western European nations, are concerned about losing many of their best-educated and most talented citizens. This article modifies and extends a theoretical model of optimal human capital investment before and after migration to shed new light on the emigration/immigration of the highly skilled, and explores some possible implications for the study of the so-called 'brain drain' phenomenon.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Schaeffer, 2005. "Human capital, migration strategy, and brain drain," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(3), pages 319-335.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jitecd:v:14:y:2005:i:3:p:319-335 DOI: 10.1080/09638190500203344

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stark, Oded & Helmenstein, Christian & Prskawetz, Alexia, 1997. "A brain gain with a brain drain," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 227-234, August.
    2. Jasso, Guillermina & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1990. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 298-304, March.
    3. A. Gonzalez, 2000. "The acquisition and labor market value of four English skills: new evidence from NALS," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(3), pages 259-269, July.
    4. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-288, April.
    5. Friedberg, Rachel M, 2000. "You Can't Take It with You? Immigrant Assimilation and the Portability of Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 221-251, April.
    6. Mark C. Regets & Harriet Orcutt Duleep, 1999. "Immigrants and Human-Capital Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 186-191, May.
    7. Barry Chiswick & Paul Miller, 2001. "A model of destination-language acquisition: Application to male immigrants in Canada," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 38(3), pages 391-409, August.
    8. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
    9. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
    10. Borjas, George J & Bronars, Stephen G, 1991. "Immigration and the Family," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 123-148, April.
    11. Chiswick, Barry R, 1986. "Is the New Immigration Less Skilled Than the Old?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 168-192, April.
    12. Stark, Oded, 2004. "Rethinking the Brain Drain," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 15-22, January.
    13. Stark, Oded & Helmenstein, Christian & Prskawetz, Alexia, 1998. "Human capital depletion, human capital formation, and migration: a blessing or a "curse"?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 363-367, September.
    14. Geoffrey Carliner, 1995. "The Language Ability of U.S. Immigrants: Assimilation and Cohort Effects," NBER Working Papers 5222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1997. "The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Labor-Market Activity: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 705-727, September.
    16. Oded Stark, 2003. "L'économie de la fuite des cerveaux prise à contre-pied," Revue d’économie du développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 11(2), pages 137-150.
    17. Bouoiyour, Jamal & Jellal, Mohamed & Wollf, François-Charles, 2003. "Effective Cost of Brain Drain," MPRA Paper 29176, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Barry R. Chiswick, 2000. "A Model of Immigrant Language Acquisition: Application to Male Immigrants in Canada," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 149, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
    19. Straubhaar, Thomas, 2000. "International mobility of the highly skilled: Brain gain, brain drain or brain exchange," HWWA Discussion Papers 88, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
    20. Barry Chiswick, 1999. "Are Immigrants Favorably Self-Selected?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 181-185, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Driouchi, Ahmed & Zouag, Nada, 2010. "Internal Mobility and Likelihood of Skill Losses in Localities of Emigration: Theory and Preliminary Empirical Application to Some Developing Economies," MPRA Paper 21799, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Apr 2010.
    2. Mohammad Joarder & Syed Hasanuzzaman, 2008. "Migration decision from Bangladesh: permanent versus temporary," Asia Europe Journal, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 531-545, November.
    3. Naghsh Nejad, Maryam, 2013. "Institutionalized Inequality and Brain Drain: An Empirical Study of the Effects of Women's Rights on the Gender Gap in High-Skilled Migration," IZA Discussion Papers 7864, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Julia Beckhusen & Raymond J.G.M. Florax & Jacques Poot & Brigitte S. Waldorf, 2013. "Attracting Global Talent And Then What? Overeducated Immigrants In The United States," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(5), pages 834-854, December.

    More about this item


    Brain drain; emigration; human capital; immigration; self-selection; immigration strategy;

    JEL classification:

    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • P25 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes


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