Eight Questions About Brain Drain

30 Pages Posted: 31 May 2011

See all articles by John Gibson

John Gibson

University of Waikato; Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

David J. McKenzie

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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High-skilled emigration is an emotive issue that in popular discourse is often referred to as brain drain, conjuring images of extremely negative impacts on developing countries. Recent discussions of brain gain, diaspora effects, and other advantages of migration have been used to argue against this, but much of the discussion has been absent of evidence. This paper builds upon a new wave of empirical research to answer eight key questions underlying much of the brain drain debate: 1) What is brain drain? 2) Why should economists care about it? 3) Is brain drain increasing? 4) Is there a positive relationship between skilled and unskilled migration? 5) What makes brain drain more likely? 6) Does brain gain exist? 7) Do high-skilled workers remit, invest, and share knowledge back home? and 8) What do we know about the fiscal and production externalities of brain drain?

Keywords: brain drain, brain gain, high-skilled emigration, development

JEL Classification: F22, O15, J61

Suggested Citation

Gibson, John and McKenzie, David John, Eight Questions About Brain Drain. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5730, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1855162

John Gibson (Contact Author)

University of Waikato ( email )

Te Raupapa
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Hamilton, 3240
New Zealand

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

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New Zealand

David John McKenzie

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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