An ‘Elite Brain Drain’: Are Foreign Top PhDs More Likely to Stay in the U.S.?

30 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2012

See all articles by Linda Van Bouwel

Linda Van Bouwel

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Reinhilde Veugelers

Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) - Department of Applied Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: January 15, 2012

Abstract

Many world regions, including Europe, have the perception that their best students and researchers leave to study and work in the United States. This phenomenon has been coined ‘the elite brain drain.’ With a sample of European students who obtain a PhD in economics in the US, we study whether the most promising among them are indeed less likely to return. We find that PhD recipients from top institutes, or with a highly cited advisor, or a pre-PhD publication or a higher impact factor on their first publication are more likely to stay in the US or Canada at a top institute. This indicates that the quality of the working environment is of crucial importance to top researchers, and that the attraction of the US consists in a big part in its many top economics departments. The location choice made for the first job strongly predicts the location of the current job. Once a top researcher has made the decision to stay, particularly at a top institute, the probability of his or her return becomes very small. This suggest that from the European perspective, there is indeed an ‘elite brain drain,’ as its most talented researchers, once embedded in the North American research system, are not very likely to return.

Suggested Citation

Van Bouwel, Linda and Veugelers, Reinhilde, An ‘Elite Brain Drain’: Are Foreign Top PhDs More Likely to Stay in the U.S.? (January 15, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2109278 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2109278

Linda Van Bouwel

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Reinhilde Veugelers (Contact Author)

Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) - Department of Applied Economics ( email )

Leuven, B-3000
Belgium
+32 16 32 6908 (Phone)
+32 16 32 6732 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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