Women on the Move: The Neglected Gender Dimension of the Brain Drain

25 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2007  

Jean-Christophe Dumont

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) - Division of non-Member Economies and International Migration

John P. Martin

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) - Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Sciences Po

Gilles Spielvogel

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) - Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS); Développement Institutions & Analyses de Long Terme (DIAL)

Date Written: July 2007

Abstract

Two trends in international migration flows have attracted much attention recently: (i) the growing feminisation of migration flows; and (ii) the increasing selectivity of migration towards the highly skilled, which in turn has given rise to renewed concerns about the "brain drain" consequences for the sending countries. The two issues have not been considered jointly, however, mainly due to the lack of relevant data. This paper addresses this shortcoming by looking at the gender dimension of the brain drain, based on a new comparable data set that has been collected by the OECD and which allows us to identify people by country of residence, place of birth, gender and level of education. The evidence summarized in this paper shows that female migration to OECD countries has been increasing significantly in recent decades, so that migrant stocks are now more or less gender-balanced. A more surprising result is that this is also true for the highly skilled. Taking into account the fact that women still face an unequal access to tertiary education in many less developed countries, it appears that women are over-represented in the brain drain. This result is reinforced by econometric estimates showing that emigration of highly skilled women is higher, the poorer is their country of origin. This effect is also observed for men but to a lesser extent. It is not observed, however, at lower educational levels, where the traditional migration hump is identifiable. Econometric estimates also report a negative impact of emigration of highly skilled women on three key education and health indicators: infant mortality, under-5 mortality and secondary school enrolment rate by gender. These results raise concerns about a potentially significant negative impact of the female brain drain on the poorest countries.

Keywords: international migration, gender dimension, brain drain

JEL Classification: F22, J16, J61, O15

Suggested Citation

Dumont, Jean-Christophe and Martin, John P. and Spielvogel, Gilles, Women on the Move: The Neglected Gender Dimension of the Brain Drain (July 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2920. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1001216

Jean-Christophe Dumont

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) - Division of non-Member Economies and International Migration ( email )

Paris
France

John P. Martin (Contact Author)

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) - Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS) ( email )

2 rue Andre Pascal
Paris Cedex 16, 75775
France

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Sciences Po ( email )

rue saint guillaume
Paris
France

Gilles Spielvogel

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) - Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS)

2 rue Andre Pascal
Paris Cedex 16, 75775
France

Développement Institutions & Analyses de Long Terme (DIAL)

France

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