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

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  • Peter J. Kuhn
  • Carol McAusland

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter J. Kuhn & Carol McAusland, 2006. "The International Migration of Knowledge Workers: When is Brain Drain Beneficial?," NBER Working Papers 12761, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12761
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    7. Alexander Haupt & Eckhard Janeba, 2009. "Education, redistribution and the threat of brain drain," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 16(1), pages 1-24, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kuhn, Peter J. & McAusland, Carol, 2008. "Consumers and the Brain Drain: Product Design and the Gains from Emigration," IZA Discussion Papers 3602, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Rosalind S Hunter, 2009. "The Elite Brain Drain," Working Papers id:2048, eSocialSciences.
    3. Agrawal, Ajay & Kapur, Devesh & McHale, John & Oettl, Alexander, 2011. "Brain drain or brain bank? The impact of skilled emigration on poor-country innovation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 43-55, January.
    4. Elisabetta Lodigiani, 2009. "Diaspora Externalities as a Cornerstone of the New Brain Drain Literature," CREA Discussion Paper Series 09-03, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
    5. Nil Demet Gungor & Aysit Tansel, 2009. "Brain Drain from Turkey: Return Intentions of Skilled Migrants," ERC Working Papers 0902, ERC - Economic Research Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Oct 2009.
    6. Susana Iranzo & Giovanni Peri, 2007. "Migration and Trade in a World of Technological Differences: Theory with an Application to Eastern-Western European Integration," NBER Working Papers 13631, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Iranzo, Susana & Peri, Giovanni, 2009. "Migration and trade: Theory with an application to the Eastern-Western European integration," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 1-19, September.
    8. Amelie F. Constant & Bienvenue N. Tien, 2009. "Brainy Africans to Fortress Europe: For Money or Colonial Vestiges?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 965, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    9. RosalindS. Hunter & Andrew J. Oswald & Bruce G. Charlton, 2009. "The Elite Brain Drain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(538), pages 231-251, June.
    10. Alexander Haupt & Eckhard Janeba, 2009. "Education, redistribution and the threat of brain drain," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 16(1), pages 1-24, February.
    11. Kuhn, Peter & McAusland, Carol, 2009. "Consumers and the brain drain: Product and process design and the gains from emigration," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 287-291, July.

    More about this item

    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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