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Brain drain or human capital flight is a large emigration of individuals with technical skills or knowledge, normally due to conflict, lack of opportunity, political instability, or health risks. Brain drain is usually regarded as an economic cost, since emigrants usually take with them the fraction of value of their training sponsored by the government. It is a parallel of capital flight which refers to the same movement of financial capital. The term was coined by the Royal Society to describe the emigration of "scientists and technologists" to North America from post-war Europe. The converse phenomenon is brain gain, which occurs when there is a large-scale immigration of technically qualified persons. Brain drain can be stopped by providing individuals who have expertise with career opportunities and giving them opportunities to prove their capabilities.

Brain drains are common amongst developing nations, such as the former colonies of Africa, the island nations of the Caribbeanmarker, and particularly in centralized economies such as former East Germanymarker and the Soviet Unionmarker, where marketable skills were not financially rewarded.

The Huguenot exodus from France (XVII century)

In 1685, Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes and declared Protestantism to be illegal in the Edict of Fontainebleau. After this, Huguenots (with estimates ranging from 200,000 to 1,000,000) fled to surrounding Protestant countries: Englandmarker, the Netherlandsmarker, Switzerlandmarker, Norwaymarker, Denmarkmarker and Prussia — whose Calvinist Great Elector Frederick William welcomed them to help rebuild his war-ravaged and underpopulated country. Many went to the Dutch colony at the Cape (South Africa) where they were instrumental in establishing a wine industry.

The exodus of Huguenots from France created a brain drain, as many Huguenots had occupied important places in society, from which the kingdom did not fully recover for years.

Antisemitism in pre-WWII Europe

Antisemitic feelings and laws in Europe through the 1930's and 1940's, culminating in the holocaust, caused the emigration of many scientists to the United States. Notable examples are:

In addition to the antisemitic conditions, Nazi political opposition against the liberal, socialists in Germany contributed to another kind of emigration. The Bauhaus, perhaps the most important arts and design school of the 20th century, was forced to close down during the Nazi regime because of their liberal and socialist leanings, which the Nazis considered was degenerate art. The school had already been shut down in Weimar because of its political stance but moved to Dessau prior to the closing. Following this abandonment, two of the three pioneers of Modern architecture, Mies Van Der Rohe and Walter Gropius, left Germany for America (while Le Corbusier stayed in France). Along with them, they brought the European modern movement to the rather unaware American public and fostered the international style in architecture and design. They helped to transform design education at American universities and thus influenced a generation of up and coming architects.

Eastern Bloc brain drain crisis (1922-1961)



By 1922, the Soviet Unionmarker had issued restrictions making emigration of its citizens to other countries all but impossible. Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev later stated "We were scared, really scared. We were afraid the thaw might unleash a flood, which we wouldn't be able to control and which could drown us. How could it drown us? It could have overflowed the banks of the Soviet riverbed and formed a tidal wave which would have washed away all the barriers and retaining walls of our society." After Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, the majority of those living in the newly acquired areas of the Eastern Bloc aspired to independence and wanted the Soviets to leave.By the early 1950s, the approach of the Soviet Unionmarker to restricting emigration was emulated by most of the rest of the Eastern Bloc, including East Germany.

Even with the closing of the Inner German border officially in 1952, the border between the sectors of East Berlin and West Berlin remained considerably more accessible than the rest of the border because it was administered by all four occupying powers. The Berlin sector border was essentially a "loophole" through which East Bloc citizens could still escape. The 3.5 million East Germans, called Republikflüchtlinge, that had left by 1961 totaled approximately 20% of the entire East German population. The emigrants tended to be young and well educated, leading to the brain drain feared by officials in East Germany. Yuri Andropov, then the CPSU Director on Relations with Communist and Workers Parties of Socialist Countries, wrote an urgent August 28, 1958 letter to the Central Committee about the significant 50% increase in the number of East German intelligentsia among the refugees. Andropov reported that, while the East German leadership stated that they were leaving for economic reasons, testimony from refugees indicated that the reasons were more political than material. He stated "the flight of the intelligentsia has reached a particularly critical phase." The direct cost of manpower losses has been estimated at $7 billion to $9 billion, with East German party leader Walter Ulbricht later claiming that West Germany owed him $17 billion in compensation, including reparations as well as manpower losses. In addition, the drain of East Germany's young population potentially cost it over 22.5 billion marks in lost educational investment. In August 1961, East Germany erected a barbed-wire barrier that would eventually be expanded through construction into the Berlin Wallmarker, effectively closing the loophole.

Europe today

Brain drain phenomena in Europe fall into two distinct trends. The first is an outflow of highly-qualified scientists from Western Europe mostly to the United Statesmarker. The second is a migration of skilled workers from Eastern and Southeastern Europe into Western Europe, often made easy by new EU membership, although there is evidence that the trend is slowing. The European Union has noted a net loss of highly-skilled workers and introduced a "blue card" policy-much like the American green card-which "seeks to draw an additional 20 million workers from Asia, Africa and Latin America in the next two decades".

Although the EU recognizes a need for extensive immigration in order to mitigate the effects of an aging population, nationalist political parties have gained support in many European countries by calling for stronger laws restricting immigration. Immigrants are perceived as a burden on the state and cause of social problems like increased crime rates, even in the absence of hard evidence.

Western Europe

In 2006, over 250,000 Europeans emigrated to the United States (164,285), Australia (40,455), Canadamarker (37,946) and New Zealandmarker (30 262). Germanymarker alone saw 155,290 people leave the country (though mostly to destinations within Europe). This is the highest rate of worker emigration since reunification, which itself was equal to the rate in the aftermath of World War II. Portugalmarker is suffering the largest drain in Western Europe. The country has lost 19.5% of its qualified population and is struggling to absorb sufficient skilled immigrants to cater for losses to Australia, Canada, Switzerlandmarker, Germany and Austriamarker.

Central and Eastern Europe

More than 500,000 Russian scientists and computer programmers have left the country since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Central and Eastern European countries have expressed concerns about extensive migration of skilled labourers to Irelandmarker and the United Kingdommarker. Lithuaniamarker, for example, has lost about 100 000 citizens since 2003, many of them young, well-educated, to emigration to Ireland in particular. (Ireland itself used to suffer serious brain drain to America, Britain and Canada before the Celtic Tiger economic programs.) A similar phenomenon occurred in Polandmarker after its entry into the European Union. In the first year of its EU membership, 100 000 Poles registered to work in Englandmarker, joining an estimated 750 000 residents of Polish descent. Research conducted by PKO Bank Polski, Poland's largest retail bank, shows that 63% of Polish immigrants to the UK are aged between 24 and 35 with 40% possessing a university degree. However, with the rapid growth of salaries in Poland, booming economy, strong value of the złoty, and decreasing unemployment (which fell from 14.2% in May 2006 to 8% in March 2008), the flight of Polish workers is slowing. In 2008 and early 2009 people who came back outnumbered those leaving the country. The exodus is likely to continue.

South Eastern Europe

The rapid and small-scale departure of highly-skilled workers from Southeastern Europe has caused concern about those nations developing towards inclusion in the European Union. This has sparked programmes to curb the outflow by encouraging skilled technicians and scientists to remain in the region to work on international projects.

Africa

Conservatively speaking, "Brain drain has cost the African continent over $4 billion in the employment of 150,000 expatriate professionals annually." According to UNDP, "Ethiopia lost 75 per cent of its skilled workforce between 1980 and 1991," which harms the ability of such nations to get out of poverty. Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia are believed to be the most affected. In the case of Ethiopia, the country produces many excellent doctors, but there are more Ethiopian doctors in Chicago than there are in Ethiopia. South African President Thabo Mbeki said in his 1998 'African Renaissance' speech:

"In our world in which the generation of new knowledge and its application to change the human condition is the engine which moves human society further away from barbarism, do we not have need to recall Africa's hundreds of thousands of intellectuals back from their places of emigration in Western Europe and North America, to rejoin those who remain still within our shores!

I dream of the day when these, the African mathematicians and computer specialists in Washington and New York, the African physicists, engineers, doctors, business managers and economists, will return from London and Manchester and Paris and Brussels to add to the African pool of brain power, to enquire into and find solutions to Africa's problems and challenges, to open the African door to the world of knowledge, to elevate Africa's place within the universe of research the information of new knowledge, education and information."


South Africa

Along with many African nations, South Africa has been experiencing a "brain drain" in the past 20 years. This is believed to be potentially damaging for the regional economy, and is almost certainly detrimental for the wellbeing of regional poor majority desperately reliant on the healthcare infrastructure given the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The skills drain in South Africa tends to demonstrate racial contours (naturally given the skills distribution legacy of South Africa) and has thus resulted in large White South African communities abroad. For details, see human capital flight in South Africa.

Middle East

Iraq

The lack of basic services and security is feeding an outflow of professionals from Iraqmarker that began under Saddam Hussein, under whose rule 4 million Iraqis are believed to have left the country. The exodus is fueled by violence, which, as of 2006, has seen 89 university professors and senior lecturers killed.

Iran

In 2006, the International Monetary Fundmarker ranked Iranmarker highest in brain drain among 90 measured countries. The estimated exodus of 150,000 people per year is thought to be due to a poor job market, and tense domestic social conditions.

Asia Pacific

The Philippines

The Philippinesmarker first began experiencing a noticeable brain drain in the 1970s, when the government set up a mechanism for international contract work. These Overseas Contract Workers were at first employed largely in Middle East nations, notably Saudi Arabiamarker, but an increasing number of workers were taking contracts in Southeast Asia into the 1990s. The number of Filipinos working abroad in such contract work increased from 36,035 in 1975 to 214,590 in 1980.

As of 2006, it was thought that approximately 8 million Filipinos were working abroad. Philippine workers sent home more than $10.7 billion last year, equal to about 12% of the GDP. The drain has a damaging effect on the country's health care system. It is estimated that approximately 100,000 nurses emigrated between 1994 and 2006. This trend continues, with around 15,000 nurses expected to emigrate from the Philippines in 2008. The outflow of medical professionals has forced the closure of medical schools and threatened hospitals.

In attempt to curb the migration of skilled workers, the government has implemented minor incentive packages. In 1989, the Balikbayan program was created to encourage Filipino emigrants, mostly living in the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker, to return to the Philippines as free-spending tourists.

South Asia

Pakistan

Since Pakistan began market economic reforms in the late 70s, many Pakistani began migrating to countries Western Europe, North America and Oceania. It is estimated that 30 percent of the 100,000 Pakistani students who study abroad annually return to Pakistan. The fact is there are many more job opportunities, higher standard of living and education opportunities for Pakistani living abroad, as a result Pakistan suffers severe brain drain. The Pakistani government is trying to lure back its foreign educated professionals by tweaking its salaries, housing and job incentives.

India

The UNDP estimates that Indiamarker loses $2 billion a year because of the emigration of computer experts to the U.S. Indianmarker students going abroad for their higher studies costs India a foreign exchange outflow of $10 billion annually.

Australasia

Pacific Islands

The post-WWII migration trends in the Pacific Islands has essentially followed these trends
  • Most Pacific island nations that were formerly under UK mandate have had migration outflows to Australia and New Zealand since the de-colonialzation of the region from the 1960s to 1990s. There has only been a limited outflow from these islands to Canada and the UK since de-colonialization.
  • Most Pacific islands administered by France (like Tahiti) have had an outflow into France.
  • Most Pacific islands under some kind of US administration have had inflows into the US, and to a lesser extent Canada.


New Zealand

During the 1990s, 30,000 New Zealanders were emigrating each year. An OECD report released in 2005 revealed that 24.2% of New Zealandersmarker with a tertiary education were living outside of New Zealand, predominantly in Australia. In 2007, around 24,000 New Zealanders settled in Australia. Student loans are cited as a reason, with graduates using higher foreign salaries to pay off their debts.

It has been noted that New Zealand also enjoys immigration of qualified foreigners, potentially leaving a net gain of skills.

North America

Canada

Colonial administrators in Canadamarker observed the trend of human capital flight to the United Statesmarker as early as the 1860s, when it was already clear that a majority of immigrants arriving at Québecmarker were en route to destinations in the United States. Alexander C. Buchanan, government agent at Quebec, argued that prospective emigrants should be offered free land to remain in Canada. The problem of attracting and keeping the right immigrants is a constant in Canadian immigration history.

In the 1920s over 20% of university graduating classes in engineering and science were emigrating to the United States. When governments displayed no interest, concerned industrials formed the Technical Service Council in 1927 to combat the brain drain. As a practical means of doing so, the Council operated a placement service that was free to graduates.

By 1976 the Council had placed over 16,000 men and women [ ] Between 1960 and 1979 over 17,000 engineers and scientists emigrated to the United States. But the exodus of technically trained Canadians leaving dropped from 27% of the graduating classes in 1927 to under 10% in 1951 and 5% in 1967.

In Canada today, the brain drain to the United States is occasionally a domestic political issue. At times, brain drain is used as a justification for income tax cuts . There is a drain from Canada to the United States, especially in the financial, software, aerospace, health care and entertainment industries, due to higher wages and lower income taxes in the U.S. Engineers and scientists were also attracted by the greater diversity of jobs and a perceived lack of research funding in Canada.

The evidence shows that Canada is indeed losing its homegrown talent to the US , but while it is gaining skilled migrants from abroad , because the qualifications of these migrants are given no standing in Canada (see credentialism), many highly skilled migrants are forced into low-paying service sector jobs. However, recent anecdotal evidence shows that stringent US security measures after September 11th, 2001 have helped to end the brain drain debate in Canada.

United States

The 2000 United Statesmarker Census Bureau published a special report on domestic worker migration, with a focus on the movement of young, single, college-educated migrants. The data shows a trend of such people moving away from the Rust Belt and northern Great Plainsmarker region towards the West Coast and Southeast. The area with the largest net influx of young, single, college-educated persons was the San Francisco Bay Areamarker.

The country as a whole does not experience a large-scale brain drain to other countries, since it is often the destination of skilled workers migrating from elsewhere in the world. However, the U.S. (like other countries) have been experiencing widespread rural depopulation in the past few decades which has seen many rural workers with high skills move to urban/suburban areas - this has negatively impacted rural communities in the U.S.

Mid-2009 reversal

Sometime in late 2008, the number of people leaving the US started to slightly exceed the number coming in [27791]. In US immigration history this trend is an interesting historical reversal. Typically the US has always had greater immigration inflows than outflows for most of its post-1800 history.

It must be noted that there is (and always has been) a great amount of difficulty determining the numbers of illegal immigrants in the US. The scale of this migration outflow reversal so far seems to be somewhat small in magnitude versus the US population as a whole. This exodus's knock on economic effects will probably remain invisible to the US economy due to the masking effects of the 2007 finance system crisis. It is suspected that this outflow is mostly happening with non-Hispanic university level trained immigrants in technical sectors, not with unskilled persons (mostly from the Americas and Carribean) choosing to leave.

Latin America

In many Latin American nations where enrollment at local medical schools is very high, there is a chronic shortage of doctors (with the exception of Cuba, Uruguaymarker and Argentinamarker).

A 2000 study revealed that a number of Latin American countries had, over the years, suffered a considerable loss of professionals. As a percentage of each country's corps of university graduates, the following percentages lived overseas:



The same study revealed that during the 1990s, a significant number of those who emigrated from Latin America were specialized professionals, constituting the following proportions as a percent of each country's volume of emigrants:

  • Argentina...19.1%
  • Chile.........15.6%
  • Mexico........2.6%
  • Perumarker..........10.0%


Cuba

In 2007, Cubanmarker officials claimed that 31,000 Cuban doctors were deployed in 61 countries. A large number practice in South America. 20,000 are employed in Venezuelamarker in exchange for 100,000 barrels of oil per day. However, state employees serving at assigned foreign posts that earn money or resources for their government do not exactly fall under the definition of brain drain. From Venezuela and Boliviamarker, where another 1,700 doctors work, it is thought that as many as 500 doctors may have fled the missions into countries nearby; these would constitute brain drain. Figures are dubious, since the defections are rarely made public.

Caribbean

Most of the Caribbean Islandsmarker endure a substantial emigration of qualified workers. Approximately 30% of the labour forces of many islands have left, and more than 80% of college graduates from Surinamemarker, Haitimarker, Grenadamarker and Guyanamarker have emigrated, mostly to the United Statesmarker. Over 80% of Jamaicansmarker with higher education live abroad. However, it is noted that these nationals pay valuable remittances. In Jamaicamarker, the money sent back amounts to 18% of GNP. This calls into question whether this trend can be described as a true brain drain.

Brain gain

An opposite situation, in which many trained and talented individuals seek entrance into a country, is called a brain gain; this may create a brain drain in the nations that the individuals are leaving. A Canadian symposium in 2000 gave circulation to the new term, at a time when many highly skilled Canadians were moving to the United States, while simultaneously many qualified immigrants were coming to Canada from a number of different nations. This is sometimes referred to as a 'brain transplant'.

In 2000, the US Congress announced it was raising the annual cap on the number of temporary work visas granted to highly skilled professionals under its H1B visa program, from 115,000 to 195,000 per year, effective through 2003. That suggests a ballpark figure for the influx of talent into the United States at that time. A significant portion of this program was initiated by lobbyists from the computer industry, including Bill Gates. In the same year the Britishmarker government, in cooperation with the Wolfson Foundation, a research charity, launched a £20 million, five-year research award scheme aimed at drawing the return of the UK's leading expatriate scientists and sparking the migration of top young researchers to the United Kingdom.

See also



Footnotes

  1. The brain drain: Old myths, new realities
  2. Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed, Frank Puaux, Huguenot
  3. Volker Rolf Berghahn, Modern Germany: Society, Economy and Politics in the Twentieth Century, p. 227. Cambridge University Press, 1987
  4. Eastern European immigration statistics released by the UK
  5. Eastern European immigration slows down in the UK
  6. Open door for qualified workers
  7. Spotlight on Immigration: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Immigrants and Their Children
  8. IS-4496_LPRFlowReport_2006c.indd
  9. 4 (1)
  10. Facts and Figures 2006 - Immigration Overview: Permanent and Temporary Residents
  11. [1]
  12. Jornal de Notícias
  13. Russian brain drain tops half a million. BBC News. June 20, 2002.
  14. Special report: Finance for Poles in Britain. Jo Thornhill, Mail on Sunday, reports from Warsaw. November 4, 2007.
  15. Eurostat February 2008 - Euro area unemployment stable at 7.1%
  16. UK Poles return home. The Telegraph. February 21, 2009.
  17. Horvat, Vedran: In: Southeast European Politics, Volume V, Number 1, May 2004
  18. Stemming brain drain with the Grid in Southeast Europe - UNESCO
  19. Brain drain in africa
  20. More Ethiopia doctors in Chicago than Ethiopia
  21. http://jae.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/13/suppl_2/ii15 World Bank, IMF study 2004
  22. http://www.equinetafrica.org/bibl/docs/healthpersonnel.pdf Health Personnel in Southern Africa: Confronting maldistribution and brain drain
  23. http://www-ilo-mirror.cornell.edu/public/english/protection/migrant/download/imp/imp52e.pdf Skilled Labour Migration from Developing Countries: Study on South and Southern Africa
  24. Brain drain puts new strain on Iraq - BBC
  25. The Iraqi brain drain - The Guardian
  26. BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6240287.stm
  27. Skilled Labour Migration from Developing Countries: Study on the Philippines
  28. Brain Drain Hits Philippines - VoA News, retrieved 29 May 2008
  29. The Overseas Class - Los Angeles Times
  30. Philippine Medical Brain Drain Leaves Public Health System in Crisis - VoA News, retrieved 29 May 2008
  31. Western demand drains Philippines of 85 per cent of its trained nurses - The Independent
  32. Medical brain drain threat to Philippines - The Standard
  33. Balikbayan Privileges
  34. Brain drain costs Asia billions , BBC News
  35. Students' exodus costs India forex outflow of $10 bn: Assocham, Thaindian News, January 26, 2009
  36. Quarter of NZ's brightest are gone
  37. NZ top source of immigrants to Australia
  38. Brain Drain or Brain Exchange?
  39. Moving Here, Staying Here: The Canadian Immigrant Experience - "Immigration," Annual Report of the Minister of the Province of Canada for the Year 1865, pages 10–15.
  40. Jeff Colgan, The Promise And Peril Of International Trade, (2005) pp 141ff.
  41. Migration of the Young, Single, and College Educated - US Census Bureau, Nov 2003
  42. La otra cara de la fuga de cerebros
  43. Argentina lidera la fuga de cerebros a Estados Unidos
  44. Cuban Doctors Awaiting U.S. Response - The Washington Post
  45. Cuban doctors defect from Venezuela posts
  46. Latin America Shouldn't Bet Everything On Remittances - World Bank
  47. Study finds small developing lands hit hardest by 'brain drain', DUGGER, Celia, New York Times, 25 October 2005
  48. Brain drain or export earnings? - BBCCaribbean.com
  49. http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1654992,0002.htm


References

  • Lincoln C. Chen, M.D., and Jo Ivey Boufford, M.D. "Fatal Flows Doctors on the Move" New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 353:1850–1852 October 27, 2005 Number 17 online version, editorial
  • Cheng, L., & Yang, P. Q. "Global interaction, global inequality, and migration of the highly trained to the United States. International Migration Review, (1998). 32, 626–94.
  • Jeff Colgan, The Promise and Peril ff International Trade, (2005) ch 9.
  • David Heenan.Flight Capital: The Alarming Exodus of America's Best and Brightest (2005), brain drain in reverse as immigrants return home
  • Devesh Kapur and John McHale. Give Us Your Best and Brightest: The Global Hunt for Talent and Its Impact on the Developing World (2005) [27792]
  • Kemp, Paul. Goodbye Canada? (2003), from Canada to U.S.
  • Khadria, Binod. The Migration of Knowledge Workers: Second-Generation Effects of India's Brain Drain, (2000)
  • Kuznetsov, Yevgeny. Diaspora Networks and the International Migration of Skills: How Countries Can Draw on Their Talent Abroad (2006)
  • D. W. Livingstone; The Education-Jobs Gap: Underemployment or Economic Democracy (1998), focus on Canada online edition
  • Douglas S. Massey and J. Edward Taylor; International Migration: Prospects and Policies in a Global Market, (2003) online edition
  • Mullan, Fitzhugh. "The Metrics of the Physician Brain Drain." New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 353:1810–1818 October 27, 2005 Number 17 online version
  • Caglar Ozden and Maurice Schiff. International Migration, Remittances, and Brain Drain. (2005)
  • Ransford W. Palmer; In Search of a Better Life: Perspectives on Migration from the Caribbean Praeger Publishers, 1990 online edition
  • Ronald Skeldon and Wang Gungwu; Reluctant Exiles? Migration from Hong Kong and the New Overseas Chinese 1994 online edition
  • Michael Peter Smith and Adrian Favell. The Human Face of Global Mobility: International Highly Skilled Migration in Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific, (2006)
  • David Zweig, Chen Changgui, and Stanley Rosen; China's Brain Drain to the United States: Views of Overseas Chinese Students and Scholars in the 1990s Institute of East Asian Studies, 1995 online edition


Online references



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