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Where Are They Now? Migration Patterns for Graduates of the University of British Columbia

In: The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater

Listed author(s):
  • John F. Helliwell
  • David F. Helliwell

In an empirical analysis of the migration patterns of University of British Columbia (UBC) graduates, John F. and David F. Helliwell show in their paper how much the situation has changed between the 1960s and the 1990s. Canadian research and graduate education have expanded dramatically, leading many more undergraduates to stay in Canada for their graduate work. According to the Helliwells, this is perhaps the single most important reason why the south-bound flows of bachelor’s graduates has fallen so much from the early 1960s to the 1990s. Consequently, they argue that the resurgence of discussion of a brain drain in the 1990s has much less basis in the data, and probably represents factors specific to certain sectors, such as health spending, research and university financing, where funding support has risen much less rapidly than in the United States. It has also been fuelled to some extent by sharp increases in the numbers in temporary NAFTA visas to Canadians working in the United States, and in part to increasing gaps in salaries and tax rates in the 1990s that favoured high-income earners in the United States, relative to their Canadian counterparts. The UBC graduate data show that over the past five decades there have been continuing reductions in the shares of UBC graduates living in the United States. For all of the large-scale bachelor’s programs the proportion of graduates living in the United States has continued to fall during the 1990s. For the graduate programs, the proportion living outside Canada is and has always been high, reflecting a very international mix of both the student intake and the available career positions. For all degrees, the proportion of 1990s UBC graduates living in the rest of the world is higher than that in the United States. For graduate degrees, the proportion of the graduates subsequently living and working in Canada, and especially in British Columbia, is much higher than the share of Canadian citizens among the incoming students. With respect to the international distribution of those with the highest level of educational aptitude and attainments, as represented by the master’s and PhD graduates of UBC, Canada and British Columbia stand in the middle ground between the United States and the rest of the world. Comparing the citizenship of UBC’s graduate intake with the country of residence of the graduates, the United States is the largest proportionate net recipient (7 per cent U.S. citizen intake, 14 per cent U.S.-resident 1990s PhDs), Canada is the largest recipient in terms of numbers of PhDs (46 per cent Canadian citizen intake, 70 per cent Canadian-resident 1990s PhDs), with students from 100 other countries providing a net flow into Canada and the United States.

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This chapter was published in: Patrick Grady & Andrew Sharpe (ed.) The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, pages 291-322, 2001.
This item is provided by Centre for the Study of Living Standards in its series The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater with number 13.
Handle: RePEc:sls:secfds:13
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