The Brain Drain and the World Distribution of Income
Royal Holloway, University of London
Bar Ilan University - Department of Economics; Stanford University
May 1, 2011
Journal of Development Economics, Vol. 95, No. 1, pp. 4-17, May 2011
Skilled emigration (or brain drain) from developing to developed countries is becoming the dominant pattern of international migration today. Such migration is likely to affect the world distribution of income both directly, through the mobility of people, and indirectly, as the prospect of migration affects the rate of return to education in both the sending and receiving economies. This migration pattern will therefore affect human capital accumulation and fertility decisions in both the sending and receiving economies. This paper analyzes these effects in a dynamic two country model of the world economy where agents in both countries make optimal fertility and human capital decisions. The implications of the analysis for the world distribution of income are derived in the light of recent empirical findings of the brain drain literature. The analysis shows that the current trend towards predominantly skilled emigration from poor to rich countries may in the long run increase inequality in the world distribution of income as relatively poor countries grow large in terms of population. In the short run however, it is possible for world inequality to fall due to rises in GDP per capita in large developing economies with sufficiently low skilled emigration rates.
Keywords: Migration; Growth, Brain drain, World distribution of income, Endogenous fertility
JEL Classification: O40; F11; F43Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 7, 2011
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