Country Risks and Brain Drain: The Emigration Potential of Japanese Skilled Workers

Social Science Japan Journal, forthcoming

53 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2020 Last revised: 28 Jan 2022

See all articles by Yusaku Horiuchi

Yusaku Horiuchi

Dartmouth College - Department of Government

Nana Oishi

University of Melbourne

Date Written: August 7, 2021


While most existing research attributes contemporary Japanese emigration to the pursuit of a better lifestyle, recent qualitative studies point out that concern about country risks is a significant driver. We explore Japan’s brain-drain potential and factors shaping Japanese skilled workers’ interest in emigrating to other countries based on our original survey with an experimental component. We first undertake descriptive analysis using respondents in the (baseline) control group and examine what types of Japanese skilled workers are interested in emigration. We then use respondents in the control and treatment groups to test our pre-registered hypotheses regarding the impact of information about Japan’s country risks on their attitudes. The results of our descriptive analysis show that respondents with overseas experience and younger respondents are particularly motivated to consider emigration. Another notable finding is that respondents who distrust the government and media are also more likely to consider leaving Japan than those who do not. Furthermore, through our randomized survey experiment, we find that exposure to information about long-term economic risk encourages people to consider living abroad in the future. These results suggest that the brain drain from Japan is likely to continue, pointing to a need for policy actions to tackle it.

Keywords: migration, emigration, skilled workers, country risks, brain drain, Japan

JEL Classification: H31, I31, J61, J81

Suggested Citation

Horiuchi, Yusaku and Oishi, Nana, Country Risks and Brain Drain: The Emigration Potential of Japanese Skilled Workers (August 7, 2021). Social Science Japan Journal, forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Yusaku Horiuchi (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Government ( email )

204 Silsby Hall
HB 6108
Hanover, NH 03755
United States


Nana Oishi

University of Melbourne ( email )

Asia Institute, University of Melbourne
761 Swanston Street
Parkville, Victoria 3010

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