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Brain Drain and Inequality Across Nations

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  • Docquier, Frédéric

    () (Université catholique de Louvain)

Abstract

Is the brain drain a curse or a boon for developing countries? This paper reviews what is known to date about the magnitude of the brain drain from developing to developed countries, its determinants and the way it affects the well-being of those left behind. First, I present alternative measures of the brain drain and characterize its evolution over the last 25 years. Then, I review the theoretical and empirical literature. Although the brain drain is a major source of concern for origin countries, it also induces positive effects through various channels such as remittances, return migration, diaspora externalities, quality of governance and increasing return to education. Whilst many scientists and international institutions praise the unambiguous benefits of unskilled migration for developing countries, my analysis suggests that a limited but positive skilled emigration rate (say between 5 and 10 percent) can also be good for development. Nevertheless, the current spatial distribution of the brain drain is such that many poor countries are well above this level, such as sub-Saharan African and Central American countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Docquier, Frédéric, 2006. "Brain Drain and Inequality Across Nations," IZA Discussion Papers 2440, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2440
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    1. Dutrénit, gabriela & Capdevielle, Mario & Corona, Juan Manuel & Puchet, Martin & Santiago, Fernando & Vera-Cruz, Alexandre, 2010. "El sistema nacional de innovación mexicano: estructuras, políticas, desempeño y desafíos
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    2. Michèle V. K. Belot & Timothy J. Hatton, 2012. "Immigrant Selection in the OECD," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(4), pages 1105-1128, December.
    3. Lucas Marchiori & Patrice Pieretti & Benteng Zou, 2010. "Migration and Human Capital in an Endogenous Fertility Model," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 97-98, pages 187-205.
    4. Elise S. Brezis & Ariel Soueri, 2013. "Mobility of Students and Quality of Higher Education: An Empirical Analysis of the “Unified Brain Drain” Model," Working Papers 2013-11, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
    5. Nejad, Maryam Naghsh & Young, Andrew T., 2016. "Want freedom, will travel: Emigrant self-selection according to institutional quality," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 45(S), pages 71-84.
    6. Etzo, Ivan, 2008. "Internal migration and growth in Italy," MPRA Paper 8642, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Etzo, Ivan, 2008. "Internal migration: a review of the literature," MPRA Paper 8783, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Langthaler, Margarita & Hornoff, Sandra, 2008. "Braindrain und seine Auswirkungen auf Entwicklungsländer," Working Papers 20, Österreichische Forschungsstiftung für Internationale Entwicklung (ÖFSE) / Austrian Foundation for Development Research.
    9. Nil Demet Güngör & Aysit Tansel, 2008. "Brain drain from Turkey: the case of professionals abroad," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 29(4), pages 323-347, July.
    10. repec:icb:wpaper:v:4:y:2017:i:1:198-203 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Luca Marchiori & Patrice Pieretti & Benteng Zo, 2008. "Brain Drain, Remittances, and Fertility," Economie Internationale, CEPII research center, issue 115, pages 9-42.
    12. Stolz, Yvonne & Baten, Joerg, 2012. "Brain drain in the age of mass migration: Does relative inequality explain migrant selectivity?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 205-220.
    13. Nathalie Lahire & Richard Johanson & Ryoko Tomita Wilcox, 2011. "Youth Employment and Skills Development in The Gambia," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 5923, November.
    14. Artjoms IVLEVS & Jaime DE MELO, 2015. "FDI, the Brain Drain and Trade: Channels and Evidence," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Developing Countries in the World Economy, chapter 21, pages 533-551 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    15. Boncea Irina, 2013. "Medical Brain Drain - A Theoretical Approach," Annals of Faculty of Economics, University of Oradea, Faculty of Economics, vol. 1(1), pages 64-71, July.
    16. Elise S. Brezis, 2016. "Why Migrate: For Study or for Work?," Economies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 1-12, August.
    17. Kox, Henk L.M., 2011. "The future of the fence around the European labour market," MPRA Paper 31722, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Weiss, Volkmar, 2009. "National IQ Means Transformed from Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Scores, and their Underlying Gene Frequencies," MPRA Paper 14600, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Elise S. Brezis & Ariel Soueri, 2012. "Globalization and Migration: A “Unified Brain Drain” Model," Working Papers 2012-15, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
    20. Ziesemer Thomas H.W., 2009. "Worker Remittances and Growth: The Physical and Human Capital Channels," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 229(6), pages 743-773, December.
    21. World Bank, 2010. "Gambia, The - Youth Employment and Skills Development Study : Improving Youth Employment Outcomes Through Enhanced Skills Development," World Bank Other Operational Studies 2964, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic development; international migration; human capital; brain drain;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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