Brain Drain and Inequality Across Nations

40 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2006

See all articles by Frédéric Docquier

Frédéric Docquier

Université catholique de Louvain; CREAM, Centre for Research on Environmental Appraisal & Management, UK; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: November 2006

Abstract

Is the brain drain a curse or a boon for developing countries? This paper reviews what is known to date about the magnitude of the brain drain from developing to developed countries, its determinants and the way it affects the well-being of those left behind. First, I present alternative measures of the brain drain and characterize its evolution over the last 25 years. Then, I review the theoretical and empirical literature. Although the brain drain is a major source of concern for origin countries, it also induces positive effects through various channels such as remittances, return migration, diaspora externalities, quality of governance and increasing return to education. Whilst many scientists and international institutions praise the unambiguous benefits of unskilled migration for developing countries, my analysis suggests that a limited but positive skilled emigration rate (say between 5 and 10 percent) can also be good for development. Nevertheless, the current spatial distribution of the brain drain is such that many poor countries are well above this level, such as sub-Saharan African and Central American countries.

Keywords: brain drain, international migration, human capital, economic development

JEL Classification: F22, J61

Suggested Citation

Docquier, Frédéric, Brain Drain and Inequality Across Nations (November 2006). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2440. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=947463

Frédéric Docquier (Contact Author)

Université catholique de Louvain ( email )

IRES
Place Montesquieu 3
Louvain-la-Neuve, 1348
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://https://perso.uclouvain.be/frederic.docquier/

CREAM, Centre for Research on Environmental Appraisal & Management, UK

University of Newcastle
NE1 7RU Newcastle Upon Tyne
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

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