IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Return Migration as a Channel of Brain Gain

  • Karin Mayr
  • Giovanni Peri

Recent theoretical and empirical studies have emphasized the fact that the prospect of international migration increases the expected returns to skills in poor countries, linking the possibility of migrating (brain drain) with incentives to higher education (brain gain). If emigration is uncertain and some of the highly educated remain, such a channel may, at least in part, counterbalance the negative effects of brain drain. Moreover, recent empirical evidence seems to show that temporary migration is widespread among highly skilled migrants (such as Eastern Europeans in Western Europe and Asians in the U.S.). This paper develops a simple tractable overlapping generations model that provides an economic rationale for return migration and which predicts who will migrate and who will return among agents with heterogeneous abilities. We use parameter values from the literature and the data on return migration to simulate the model and quantify the effects of increased openness on human capital and wages of the sending countries. We find that, for plausible values of the parameters, the return migration channel is very important and combined with the incentive channel reverses the brain drain into significant brain gain for the sending country.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14039.

in new window

Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14039
Note: ITI LS
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809.
  2. Michel Beine & Fréderic Docquier & Hillel Rapoport, 2008. "Brain Drain and Human Capital Formation in Developing Countries: Winners and Losers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(528), pages 631-652, 04.
  3. Schiff, Maurice, 2005. "Brain Gain: Claims about Its Size and Impact on Welfare and Growth Are Greatly Exaggerated," IZA Discussion Papers 1599, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Sebastian Gundel & Heiko Peters, 2008. "What Determines the Duration of Stay of Immigrants in Germany?: Evidence from a Longitudinal Duration Analysis," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 79, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  5. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2006. "The World Technology Frontier," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 499-522, June.
  6. Borjas, George J & Bratsberg, Bernt, 1996. "Who Leaves? The Outmigration of the Foreign-Born," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 165-76, February.
  7. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2001. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 541-63, July.
  8. Dustmann, Christian & Kirchkamp, Oliver, 2000. "The Optimal Migration Duration and Activity Choice after Re-migration," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 00-39, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  9. J. N. Bhagwati & C. Rodriguez, 1975. "Welfare-Theoretical Analysis of the Brain Drain," Working papers 158, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  10. Christian Dustmann & Yoram Weiss, 2007. "Return Migration: Theory and Empirical Evidence from the UK," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 45(2), pages 236-256, 06.
  11. Stark, Oded, 2004. "Rethinking the Brain Drain," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 15-22, January.
  12. Lucas, Robert E B & Stark, Oded, 1985. "Motivations to Remit: Evidence from Botswana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(5), pages 901-18, October.
  13. Grogger, Jeffrey & Hanson, Gordon H., 2011. "Income maximization and the selection and sorting of international migrants," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 42-57, May.
  14. Lynne G. Zucker & Michael R. Darby, 2007. "Star Scientists, Innovation and Regional and National Immigration," NBER Working Papers 13547, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Commander, Simon & Chanda, Rupa & Kangasniemi, Mari & Winters, L. Alan, 2004. "Must Skilled Migration Be a Brain Drain? Evidence from the Indian Software Industry," IZA Discussion Papers 1422, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Antonio Ciccone & Giovanni Peri, 2003. "Identifying Human Capital Externalities: Theory with Applications," Working Papers 6, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  17. Bhagwati, Jagdish & Hamada, Koichi, 1974. "The brain drain, international integration of markets for professionals and unemployment : A theoretical analysis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-42, April.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14039. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.