Brain Drain or Brain Gain? Micro Evidence from an African Success Story

46 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2007

See all articles by Catia Batista

Catia Batista

Nova School of Business and Economics; CReAM; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; NOVAFRICA

Aitor Lacuesta

Banco de España

Pedro C. Vicente

New University of Lisbon - Nova School of Business and Economics

Date Written: September 2007

Abstract

Does emigration really drain human capital accumulation in origin countries? This paper explores a unique household survey purposely designed and conducted to answer this specific question for the case of Cape Verde - the African country with the largest fraction of tertiary educated population living abroad, despite also having a fast-growing stock of human capital. Unlike previous literature, our tailored survey allows us to adjust existing inflated 'brain drain' numbers for educational upgrading of emigrants after migration. We do so by combining our survey data on current, return and non-migrants with information from censuses of the destination countries. Our micro data also enables us to propose a novel, explicit test of 'brain gain' arguments according to which the possibility of own future emigration positively impacts educational attainment in the origin country. Crucially, the innovative empirical strategy we propose hinges on the ideal characteristics of our survey, namely on full histories of migrants and on a new set of exclusion restrictions to control for unobserved heterogeneity of emigrants. Our results point to a very substantial impact of the 'brain gain' channel on the educational attainment of those left behind. Alternative channels (namely remittances, family disruption, and general equilibrium effects at the local level) are also considered, but these do not seem to play an important role. Overall, we find that there may be substantial human capital gains from allowing free migration and encouraging return migration.

Keywords: brain drain, brain gain, brain circulation, international migration, human capital, effects of emigration in origin countries, household survey, Cape Verde, sub-Saharan Africa

JEL Classification: F22, J24, O15, O55

Suggested Citation

Batista, Catia and Lacuesta, Aitor and Vicente, Pedro C., Brain Drain or Brain Gain? Micro Evidence from an African Success Story (September 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 3035. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1017529

Catia Batista (Contact Author)

Nova School of Business and Economics ( email )

Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Rua da Holanda, 1
Carcavelos, 2775-405
Portugal

CReAM

Drayton House
30 Gordon Street
London, WC1H 0AX
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/

NOVAFRICA ( email )

Nova School of Business and Economics
Rua da Holanda, 1
Carcavelos, 2775-405
Portugal

HOME PAGE: http://www.novafrica.org

Aitor Lacuesta

Banco de España ( email )

Madrid 28014
Spain

Pedro C. Vicente

New University of Lisbon - Nova School of Business and Economics ( email )

Campus de Campolide
Lisbon, 1099-032
Portugal

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
375
Abstract Views
1,886
rank
84,393
PlumX Metrics