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A back-door brain drain


  • Stark, Oded
  • Byra, Lukasz


In this paper we study the impact of the international migration of unskilled workers on skill formation and the average skill level in the home country. We analyze what appears to be the least threatening scenario from the point of view of its effect on the supply of skills at home: namely, migration exclusively by unskilled workers. Somewhat surprisingly, we find that even without the departure of skilled workers, the home country suffers reduced aggregate skill formation. Although as a response to a higher wage rate per unit of human capital in the new equilibrium skilled workers choose to accumulate more human capital than before the opening up to migration of unskilled workers, the number and share of skilled workers in the home country's workforce fall. The combined effect is a decrease in the average level of human capital in the home country.

Suggested Citation

  • Stark, Oded & Byra, Lukasz, 2012. "A back-door brain drain," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 31, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:tuewef:31

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stark, Oded & Helmenstein, Christian & Prskawetz, Alexia, 1997. "A brain gain with a brain drain," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 227-234, August.
    2. Fan, C. Simon & Stark, Oded, 2007. "International migration and "educated unemployment"," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 76-87, May.
    3. Kwok, Viem & Leland, Hayne, 1982. "An Economic Model of the Brain Drain," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 91-100, March.
    4. Stark, Oded & Wang, Yong, 2002. "Inducing human capital formation: migration as a substitute for subsidies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 29-46, October.
    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. Katz, Eliakim & Stark, Oded, 1984. "Migration and Asymmetric Information: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 533-534, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hung-Ju Chen & Xiangbo Liu, 2015. "International Migration, Skill Acquisition and Matching Frictions," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 35(3), pages 1469-1476.
    2. Koska, Onur A. & Saygin, Perihan Özge & Çağatay, Selim & Artal-Tur, Andrés, 2013. "International migration, remittances, and the human capital formation of Egyptian children," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 38-50.

    More about this item


    Migration of unskilled workers; Human capital formation; Depletion of human capital;

    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

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