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The Microeconomic Determinants of Emigration and Return Migration of the Best and Brightest: Evidence from the Pacific

Author

Listed:
  • Gibson, John

    () (University of Waikato)

  • McKenzie, David

    () (World Bank)

Abstract

A unique survey which tracks worldwide the best and brightest academic performers from three Pacific countries is used to assess the extent of emigration and return migration among the very highly skilled, and to analyze, at the microeconomic level, the determinants of these migration choices. Although we estimate that the income gains from migration are very large, not everyone migrates and many return. Within this group of highly skilled individuals the emigration decision is found to be most strongly associated with preference variables such as risk aversion, patience, and choice of subjects in secondary school, and not strongly linked to either liquidity constraints or to the gain in income to be had from migrating. Likewise, the decision to return is strongly linked to family and lifestyle reasons, rather than to the income opportunities in different countries. Overall the data show a relatively limited role for income maximization in distinguishing migration propensities among the very highly skilled, and a need to pay more attention to other components of the utility maximization decision.

Suggested Citation

  • Gibson, John & McKenzie, David, 2009. "The Microeconomic Determinants of Emigration and Return Migration of the Best and Brightest: Evidence from the Pacific," IZA Discussion Papers 3926, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3926
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michèle V. K. Belot & Timothy J. Hatton, 2012. "Immigrant Selection in the OECD," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, pages 1105-1128.
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    12. Beine, Michel & Docquier, Frédéric & Schiff, Maurice, 2008. "Brain Drain and its Determinants: A Major Issue for Small States," IZA Discussion Papers 3398, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Michel Beine & Frederic Docquier & Hillel Rapoport, 2006. "Measuring International Skilled Migration: New Estimates Controlling for Age of Entry," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0613, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    highly skilled migration; brain drain; brain gain; return migration; selectivity;

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • 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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