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The International Migration of Knowledge Workers: When Is Brain Drain Beneficial?

  • Kuhn, Peter J.

    ()

    (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • McAusland, Carol

    ()

    (University of British Columbia, Vancouver)

We consider the welfare effects of the emigration of workers who produce a public good (knowledge). We distinguish between the knowledge diversion and knowledge creation effects of such emigration, and show that the remaining residents of a country can gain from emigration, even when tastes for knowledge goods exhibit a kind of ‘home bias’. In contrast to existing models of beneficial brain drain (BBD), our results do not require agglomeration economies, education-related externalities, remittances, return migration, or an emigration “lottery”. Instead, they are driven purely by the public nature of knowledge goods, combined with differences in market size that induce greater knowledge creation by emigrants abroad than at home. BBD is even more likely in the presence of weak sending-country intellectual property rights (IPRs), or when source country IPR policy is endogenized.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2493.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2493
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  1. Manasse, Paolo & Turrini, Alessandro Antonio, 1999. "Trade, Wages, and Superstars," CEPR Discussion Papers 2262, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Gene M. Grossman & Edwin L.-C. Lai, 2004. "International Protection of Intellectual Property," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1635-1653, December.
  3. Trefler, Daniel, 1995. "The Case of the Missing Trade and Other Mysteries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1029-46, December.
  4. Rivera-Batiz, Luis A & Romer, Paul M, 1991. "Economic Integration and Endogenous Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 531-55, May.
  5. 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.
  6. Kar-yiu Wong & Chong K. Yip, 1998. "Education, Economic Growth, and Brain Drain," Working Papers 0078, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  7. Jean-Pierre Vidal, 1998. "The effect of emigration on human capital formation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 589-600.
  8. Alexander Haupt & Eckhard Janeba, 2004. "Education, Redistribution, and the Threat of Brain Drain," NBER Working Papers 10618, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Rodriguez, Carlos Alfredo, 1975. "On the Welfare Aspects of International Migration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(5), pages 1065-72, October.
  10. George J. Borjas, 1995. "The Economic Benefits from Immigration," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 3-22, Spring.
  11. Robert H. McGuckin & Robert Inklaar & Bart van Ark & Sean M. Dougherty, 2004. "The Structure of Business R&D: Recent Trends and Measurement Implications," Economics Program Working Papers 04-01, The Conference Board, Economics Program.
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