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Brain Drain or Brain Gain? Micro Evidence from an African Success Story

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  • Batista, Catia

    () (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

  • Lacuesta, Aitor

    () (Bank of Spain)

  • Vicente, Pedro C.

    () (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

Abstract

Does emigration really drain human capital accumulation in origin countries? This paper explores a unique household survey purposely designed and conducted to answer this specific question for the case of Cape Verde - the African country with the largest fraction of tertiary educated population living abroad, despite also having a fast-growing stock of human capital. Unlike previous literature, our tailored survey allows us to adjust existing inflated “brain drain” numbers for educational upgrading of emigrants after migration. We do so by combining our survey data on current, return and non-migrants with information from censuses of the destination countries. Our micro data also enables us to propose a novel, explicit test of “brain gain” arguments according to which the possibility of own future emigration positively impacts educational attainment in the origin country. Crucially, the innovative empirical strategy we propose hinges on the ideal characteristics of our survey, namely on full histories of migrants and on a new set of exclusion restrictions to control for unobserved heterogeneity of emigrants. Our results point to a very substantial impact of the “brain gain” channel on the educational attainment of those left behind. Alternative channels (namely remittances, family disruption, and general equilibrium effects at the local level) are also considered, but these do not seem to play an important role. Overall, we find that there may be substantial human capital gains from allowing free migration and encouraging return migration.

Suggested Citation

  • Batista, Catia & Lacuesta, Aitor & Vicente, Pedro C., 2007. "Brain Drain or Brain Gain? Micro Evidence from an African Success Story," IZA Discussion Papers 3035, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3035
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    Cited by:

    1. Francisca M. Antman, 2013. "The impact of migration on family left behind," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 16, pages 293-308 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Batista, Catia & Lacuesta, Aitor & Vicente, Pedro C., 2012. "Testing the ‘brain gain’ hypothesis: Micro evidence from Cape Verde," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 32-45.
    3. Docquier, Frédéric & Faye, Ousmane & Pestieau, Pierre, 2008. "Is migration a good substitute for education subsidies?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 263-276, June.
    4. Michael A. Clemens & Lant Pritchett, 2008. "Income per Natural: Measuring Development for People Rather Than Places," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 34(3), pages 395-434.
    5. Daniela Federici & Marilena Giannetti, 2010. "Temporary Migration and Foreign Direct Investment," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 293-308, April.
    6. Mayr Karin & Peri Giovanni, 2009. "Brain Drain and Brain Return: Theory and Application to Eastern-Western Europe," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-52, November.
    7. Biondo, A.E. & Monteleone, S. & Skonieczny, G. & Torrisi, B., 2012. "The propensity to return: Theory and evidence for the Italian brain drain," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(3), pages 359-362.
    8. Simona Monteleone & Benedetto Torrisi, 2010. "A micro data analysis of Italy’s brain drain," Discussion Papers 4_2010, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
    9. Satish Chand & Michael A. Clemens, 2008. "Skilled emigration and skill creation: A quasi-experiment," International and Development Economics Working Papers idec08-05, International and Development Economics.
    10. Kristina A. Schapiro, 2009. "Migration and Educational Outcomes of Children," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2009-57, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), revised Oct 2009.
    11. Monteleone, Simona & Torrisi, Benedetto, 2010. "A Micro Data Analisys Of Italy’s Brain Drain," MPRA Paper 20995, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Schneider, Lutz & Kubis, Alexander & Wiest, Delia, 2010. "Selektivität, soziale Bindung und räumliche Mobilität –Eine Analyse der Rückkehrpräferenz," IWH Discussion Papers 17/2010, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    13. Maimunah Ismail & Mageswari Kunasegaran & Roziah Mohd Rasdi, 2014. "Evidence Of Reverse Brain Drain In Selected Asian Countries: Human Resource Management Lessons For Malaysia," Organizations and Markets in Emerging Economies, Faculty of Economics, Vilnius University, vol. 5(1).
    14. Simona Monteleone, 2009. "Brain drain e crescita economica: Una rassegna critica sugli effetti prodotti," Working Papers 2_2009, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    brain drain; sub-Saharan Africa; household survey; effects of emigration in origin countries; Cape Verde; human capital; international migration; brain circulation; brain gain;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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