Brain drain

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Brain drain (or human capital flight), is the large-scale emigration of a large group of individuals with technical skills or knowledge. The reasons usually include two aspects which respectively come from countries and individuals. In terms of countries, the reasons may be social environment (in source countries: lack of opportunities, political instability or oppression, economic depression, health risks, etc.; in host countries: rich opportunities, political stability and freedom, developed economy, better living conditions, etc.). In terms of individual reasons, there are family influence (overseas relatives), and personal preference: preference for exploring, ambition for an improved career, etc. Although the term originally referred to technology workers leaving a nation, the meaning has broadened into: "the departure of educated or professional people from one country, economic sector, or field for another, usually for better pay or living conditions".[1] Brain drain is usually regarded as an economic cost, since emigrants usually take with them the fraction of value of their training sponsored by the government or other organizations. It is a parallel of capital flight, which refers to the same movement of financial capital. Brain drain is often associated with de-skilling of emigrants in their country of destination, while their country of emigration experiences the draining of skilled individuals. Brain Drain may also refer to a situation wherein an individual fails to complete any given task as a result of a nervous breakdown.[citation needed]

The term brain drain was coined by the Royal Society to describe the emigration of "scientists and technologists" to North America from post-war Europe.[2] Another source indicates that this term was first used in the United Kingdom to describe the influx of Indian scientist and engineers.[3] The converse phenomenon is "brain gain", which occurs when there is a large-scale immigration of technically qualified persons. There are also relevant phrases called "brain circulation" and "brain waste".

Brain drain is common among developing nations, such as the former colonies of Africa,[4] the island nations of the Caribbean,[5] and particularly in centralized economies such as former East Germany and the Soviet Union.

Historical examples[edit source | edit]

Neoplatonic academy philosophers moves[edit source | edit]

After Justinian closed Academy in AD 529, according to the historian Agathias, its remaining members looked for protection under the rule of Sassanid king Khosrau I, carrying with them precious scrolls of literature and philosophy, and a lesser degree of science. After the peace treaty between the Persian and the Byzantine empire in 532 guaranteed their personal security, some members of it found sanctuary in the pagan stronghold of Harran, near Edessa. One of the last leading figures of this group was Simplicius, a pupil of Damascius, the last head of the Athenian school. From there, the students of an Academy-in-exile could have survived into the 9th century, long enough to facilitate the Arabic revival of the Neoplatonist commentary tradition in Baghdad.[6]

Spanish expulsion of Jews and Moors[edit source | edit]

After the end of the Catholic reconquest of Spain, the Catholic Monarchs pursued a religiously uniform kingdom. Jews were expelled from the country in 1492. As they dominated financial services in the country, their expulsion was instrumental in causing future economic problems, such as the need of foreign bankers such as the Fugger family and from Genoa. On 7 January 1492 the King ordered the expulsion of all the Jews from Spain-from the kingdoms of Castile, Catalonia, Aragon, Galicia, Majorca, Minorca, the Basque provinces, the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, and the kingdom of Valencia. Before that the Queen had expelled them from the kingdom of Andalusia[7] More information is available in Jewish History Sourcebook.

The war against Turks and North African Moors affected internal policy in the uprising of the Alpujarras (1568–1571) and motivated the Expulsion of the Moriscos in 1609. Despite being demographically a minority, they were a key part of the farming sector and trained artisans. Their departure contributed to economic decline in some regions of Spain. This way, the conservative aristocracy increased its power over economically developed provinces.

Huguenot exodus from France (17th century)[edit source | edit]

In 1685, Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes and declared Protestantism to be illegal in the Edict of Fontainebleau. After this, Huguenots (with estimates ranging from 200,000 to 1,000,000[8]) fled to surrounding Protestant countries: England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark and Prussia — whose Calvinist Great Elector Frederick William welcomed them to help rebuild his war-ravaged and underpopulated country. Many went to the Dutch colony at the Cape (South Africa) where they were instrumental in establishing a wine industry.[9] At least 10,000 went to Ireland where they assimilated into the Protestant minority during the plantations.

Many Huguenots and their decedents prospered. Henri Basnage de Beauval fled France and settled in the Netherlands, where he became an influential writer and historian. Abel Boyer, another noted writer, settled in London and became a tutor to the British Royal Family. Henry Fourdrinier, the descendant of Huguenot settlers in England, founded the modern paper industry. Augustin Courtauld fled to England settling in Essex and established a dynasty that founded the British silk industry. Notes Swiss mathematician Gabriel Cramer was born in Geneva to Huguenot refugees. Sir John Houblon, the first Governor of the Bank of England, was born into a Huguenot family in London. Isaac Barré, the son of Huguenots settlers in Ireland, became an influential British soldier and politician. Future British Field Marshal John Ligonier, born Jean Louis Ligonier, was a child when his family fled France for England. Gustav and Peter Carl Fabergé, the descendants of Huguenot refugees, founded the world famous Fabergé company in Russia.

Other settlers went to the newly established British colonies in North America. They established communities in places such as New Rochelle and New Paltz in New York. The Huguenot Church in Charleston, South Carolina was originally founded in 1687 by a group of refugees from France. The Huguenots and their descendants were instrumental in the growth of the United States. Revolutionary leaders John Sevier, Francis Marion and Paul Revere were descendants of Huguenot refugees. Seven other US presidents have documented Huguenot ancestors: George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford and Lyndon Johnson.[10]

The exodus of Huguenots from France created a brain drain as Huguenots accounted for a disproportionate number of entrepreneurial, artisan, and technical occupations in the country. The loss of this technical expertise was a blow from which the kingdom did not fully recover for many years.[citation needed]

Anti-Semitism in pre-WWII Europe (1933–1943)[edit source | edit]

Antisemitic feelings and laws in Europe through the 1930s and 1940s, culminating in the Holocaust, caused the emigration of many scientists to the United States. Notable examples are:

and many others.

In addition to the anti-Semitic conditions, Nazi political persecution against liberals and socialists in Germany contributed to another kind of emigration. The Bauhaus, perhaps the most important arts and design school of the 20th century, was forced to close down during the Nazi regime because of their liberal and socialist leanings, which the Nazis considered degenerate.[citation needed] The school had already been shut down in Weimar because of its political stance but moved to Dessau prior to the closing. Following this abandonment, two of the three pioneers of Modern architecture, Mies Van Der Rohe and Walter Gropius, left Germany for America (while Le Corbusier stayed in France). Along with them, they brought the European modern movement to the American public and fostered the international style in architecture and design.[citation needed] They helped to transform design education at American universities and thus influenced a generation of up and coming architects.[citation needed]

Eastern Bloc brain drain crisis (1922-1961)[edit source | edit]

By 1922, the Soviet Union had issued restrictions making emigration of its citizens to other countries almost impossible.[11] Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev later stated "We were scared, really scared. We were afraid the thaw might unleash a flood, which we wouldn't be able to control and which could drown us. How could it drown us? It could have overflowed the banks of the Soviet riverbed and formed a tidal wave which would have washed away all the barriers and retaining walls of our society."[12] After Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, the majority of those living in the newly acquired areas of the Eastern Bloc aspired to independence and wanted the Soviets to leave.[13] By the early 1950s, the approach of the Soviet Union to restricting emigration was emulated by most of the rest of the Eastern Bloc, including East Germany.[14]

Even with the closing of the Inner German border officially in 1952,[15] the border between the sectors of East Berlin and West Berlin remained considerably more accessible than the rest of the border because it was administered by all four occupying powers.[16] The Berlin sector border was essentially a "loophole" through which East Bloc citizens could still emigrate.[15] The 3.5 million East Germans, called Republikflüchtlinge, that had left by 1961 totaled approximately 20% of the entire East German population.[17] The emigrants tended to be young and well educated, leading to the brain drain feared by officials in East Germany.[13] Yuri Andropov, then the CPSU Director on Relations with Communist and Workers Parties of Socialist Countries, to write an urgent letter to the Central Committee on 28 August 1958 about the significant 50% increase in the number of East German intelligentsia among the refugees.[18] Andropov reported that, while the East German leadership stated that they were leaving for economic reasons, testimony from refugees indicated that the reasons were more political than material.[18] He stated "the flight of the intelligentsia has reached a particularly critical phase."[18] The direct cost of labour force losses has been estimated at $7 billion to $9 billion, with East German party leader Walter Ulbricht later claiming that West Germany owed him $17 billion in compensation, including reparations as well as labour force losses.[17] In addition, the drain of East Germany's young population potentially cost it over 22.5 billion marks in lost educational investment.[19] In August 1961, East Germany erected a barbed-wire barrier that would eventually be expanded by construction into the Berlin Wall, effectively closing the loophole.[20]

By region[edit source | edit]

Europe[edit source | edit]

Brain drain phenomena in Europe fall into two distinct trends. The first is an outflow of highly qualified scientists from 'Western Europe' mostly to the United States.[21] The second is a migration of skilled workers from 'Central' and 'Southeastern Europe' into 'Western Europe', within the EU,[22] although there is evidence that the trend is slowing.[23][24] The European Union has noted a net loss of highly skilled workers and introduced a "blue card" policy – much like the American green card – which "seeks to draw an additional 20 million workers from Asia, Africa and Latin America in the next two decades".[25]

Although the EU recognizes a need for extensive immigration to mitigate the effects of an aging population,[26] nationalist political parties have gained support in many European countries by calling for stronger laws restricting immigration.[27] Immigrants are perceived as a burden on the state and cause of social problems like increased crime rates and major culture differences.[28]

Western Europe[edit source | edit]

In 2006, over 250,000 Europeans emigrated to the United States (164,285),[29] Australia (40,455),[30] Canada (37,946)[31] and New Zealand (30,262).[32] Germany alone saw 155,290 people leave the country (though mostly to destinations within Europe). This is the highest rate of worker emigration since reunification, which itself was equal to the rate in the aftermath of World War II.[33] Portugal is suffering the largest drain in Western Europe. The country has lost 19.5% of its qualified population and is struggling to absorb sufficient skilled immigrants to compensate for losses to Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.[34]

Central and Eastern Europe[edit source | edit]

More than 500,000 Russian scientists and computer programmers have left the country since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.[35] Central and Eastern European countries have expressed concerns about extensive migration of skilled labourers to Ireland and the United Kingdom. Lithuania, for example, has lost about 100,000 citizens since 2003, many of them young and well-educated, to emigration to Ireland in particular.[citation needed] (Ireland itself used to suffer serious brain drain to America, Britain and Canada before the Celtic Tiger economic programmes.) A similar phenomenon occurred in Poland after its entry into the European Union. In the first year of its EU membership, 100,000 Poles registered to work in England, joining an estimated 750,000 residents of Polish descent.[36] Research conducted by PKO Bank Polski, Poland's largest retail bank, shows that 63% of Polish immigrants to the UK are aged between 24 and 35 with 40% possessing a university degree.[37] However, with the rapid growth of salaries in Poland, booming economy, strong value of the złoty, and decreasing unemployment (which fell from 14.2% in May 2006 to 8% in March 2008[38]), the flight of Polish workers is slowing.[39] In 2008 and early 2009 people who came back outnumbered those leaving the country. The exodus is likely to continue.[40]

Southeastern Europe[edit source | edit]

The rapid and small-scale departure of highly skilled workers from Southeastern Europe has caused concern about those nations developing towards inclusion in the European Union.[41] This has sparked programmes to curb the outflow by encouraging skilled technicians and scientists to remain in the region to work on international projects.[42]

Albania is also one of the countries that has experienced brain drain from the fall of communist regime. Since 1991, people started emigrating in the closest countries, Italy and Greece and with the passing of years going further to the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. In the last 10 years, educated people and professionals have been leaving the country and going in other countries where they feel they can have better possibilities, better and secure lives. This is a concern for Albania as it is losing its skilled-workers and professionals.

Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain[edit source | edit]

Many citizens of the countries mostly stricken by the economic crisis in Europe have emigrated, many of them to Australia, Brazil, Angola and Argentina.[43][44]

United Kingdom[edit source | edit]

There are a considerable number of people leaving the United Kingdom for other countries, especially Australia and the United States.[45] In the 2000s, some 3.5 million people emigrated from the UK. Most of this emigration was to seek work in a more favorable economic climate. Many young university graduates are among those leaving, which has caused this phenomenon to be labelled the "talent drain".[46]

Sub-Saharan Africa[edit source | edit]

Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have lost a tremendous amount of their educated and skilled populations as a result of emigration to more developed countries, which has harmed the ability of such nations to get out of poverty. Conservatively speaking, "Brain drain has cost the African continent over $4 billion in the employment of 150,000 expatriate professionals annually."[47] Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia are believed to be the most affected. According to the United Nations Development Programme, Ethiopia lost 75% of its skilled workforce between 1980 and 1991. In particular, the country produces many excellent doctors, but there are more Ethiopian doctors in Chicago than there are in Ethiopia.[48] South African President Thabo Mbeki said in his 1998 'African Renaissance' speech:

"In our world in which the generation of new knowledge and its application to change the human condition is the engine which moves human society further away from barbarism, do we not have need to recall Africa's hundreds of thousands of intellectuals back from their places of emigration in Western Europe and North America, to rejoin those who remain still within our shores! I dream of the day when these, the African mathematicians and computer specialists in Washington and New York, the African physicists, engineers, doctors, business managers and economists, will return from London and Manchester and Paris and Brussels to add to the African pool of brain power, to enquire into and find solutions to Africa's problems and challenges, to open the African door to the world of knowledge, to elevate Africa's place within the universe of research the information of new knowledge, education and information."

Africarecruit is a joint initiative by NEPAD and the Commonwealth Business Council to recruit professional expatriate Africans to take employment back in Africa after working overseas.[49]

In response to growing debate over brain drain of health care professionals, especially from lower income countries to some higher income countries, in 2010 the World Health Organization adopted the Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, a policy framework for all countries for the ethical international recruitment of doctors, nurses and other health professionals.

The African brain drain has begun to reverse itself due to rapid growth in many African nations. Between 2001 and 2010, six of the world's ten fastest-growing economies were in Africa, and between 2011 and 2015, Africa's economic growth is expected to outpace Asia's. This, together with increased development, introduction of technologies such as fast Internet and mobile phones, a better-educated population, and the environment for business driven by new tech start-up companies has resulted in many expatriates from Africa return to their home countries, and more Africans staying at home to work.[50]

Ghana[edit source | edit]

The trend for young doctors and nurses to seek higher salaries and better working conditions, mainly in higher income countries of the West, is having serious impacts on the health care sector in Ghana. Ghana currently has about 3600 doctors—one for every 6700 inhabitants. This compares with one doctor per 430 people in the United States.[51] Many of the country's trained doctors and nurses leave to work in countries such as Britain, the United States, Jamaica and Canada, in what many refer to as the brain drain. It is estimated that up to 68% of the country's trained medical staff left between 1993 and 2000 and according to Ghana's official statistics institute, in the period 1999 to 2004, 448 doctors, or 54% of those trained in the period, left to work abroad.[52]

South Africa[edit source | edit]

Along with many African nations, South Africa has been experiencing a "brain drain" in the past 20 years. This is believed to be potentially damaging for the regional economy,[53] and is almost certainly detrimental for the wellbeing of regional poor majority desperately reliant on the health care infrastructure given the HIV/AIDS epidemic.[54] The skills drain in South Africa tends to demonstrate racial contours exacerbated by Black Economic Empowerment policies, and has thus resulted in large White South African communities abroad.[55] The problem is further highlighted by South Africa's request in 2001 of Canada to stop recruiting its doctors and other highly skilled medical personnel.[56]

For the medical sector, the loss of returns from investment for all doctors emigrating is $1.41bn for South Africa. The benefit to destination countries is huge: $2.7bn for the United Kingdom only, without compensation.[57]

Western Asia[edit source | edit]

Iraq[edit source | edit]

During the Iraq War, especially during the early years, the lack of basic services and security fed an outflow of professionals from Iraq that began under Saddam Hussein, under whose rule 4 million Iraqis are believed to have left the country.[58] In particular, the exodus was fed by the violence that plagued Iraq, which by 2006 had seen 89 university professors and senior lecturers killed.[59]

Iran[edit source | edit]

In 2006, the International Monetary Fund ranked Iran highest in brain drain among 90 measured countries.[60] In the early 1990s, more than 150,000 Iranians emigrated, and an estimated 25% of Iranians with post-secondary education were residing in developed countries of the OECD. In 2009, the International Monetary Fund reported that 150,000-180,000 Iranians emigrate annually, with up to 62% of Iran's academic elite having emigrated, and that the yearly exodus is equivalent to an annual capital loss of $50 billion.[61] The brain drain thought to be due to a poor job market and strict social codes imposed by the government.[62][63]

Middle East[edit source | edit]

Israel[edit source | edit]

Israel has experienced varying levels of emigration throughout its history, with the majority of Israeli expatriates moving to the United States. Currently, some 330,000 native-born Israelis (including 230,000 Israeli Jews) are estimated to be living abroad, while the number of immigrants to Israel who later left is unclear. According to public opinion polls, the main motives for leaving Israel have not been the political and security situation, but include desire for higher living standards, pursuit of work opportunities and/or professional advancement, and higher education. Since those leaving are on average more educated than those who remain in Israel, the term "brain drain" has been applied to this emigration. Many Israelis with degrees in scientific or engineering fields have emigrated abroad, largely due to lack of job opportunities. From Israel's establishment in May 1948 to December 2006, about 400,000 doctors and academics left Israel. In 2009, Israel's Council for Higher Education informed the Knesset's Education Committee that 25% of Israel's academics were living overseas, and that Israel had the highest brain drain rate in the world. However, an OECD estimate put the highly educated Israeli emigrant rate at 5.3 per 1,000 highly educated Israelis, meaning that Israel actually retains more of its highly educated population than many other developed countries.

In addition, the majority of Israelis who emigrate eventually return after extended periods abroad. In 2007, the Israeli government began a program to encourage Israelis living abroad to return, and since then, the number of returning Israelis has doubled, and in 2010, Israeli expatriates, including academics, researchers, technical professionals, and business managers, began returning in record numbers. Israel launched additional programs to open new opportunities in scientific fields to encourage Israeli scientists and researchers living abroad to return home. These programs have since succeeded in luring many Israeli scientists back home.[64][65][66][67][68]

Arab world[edit source | edit]

By 2010, the Arab countries were experiencing a brain drain, according to reports from the United Nations and Arab League. About one million Arab experts and specialists were living in developed countries, and the rate of return was extremely low. The reasons for this included attraction to opportunities in technical and scientific fields in the West, an absence of job opportunities in the Arab world, as well as wars and political turmoil that have plagued many Arab nations.[69]

In 2012, this brain drain was showing signs of reversing, with many young students choosing to stay and more individuals from abroad returning. In particular, many young professionals are becoming entrepreneurs and starting their own businesses rather than going abroad to work for companies in Western countries. This was partially a result of the Arab Spring, after which many Arab countries began viewing science as the driving force for development, and as a result stepped up their science programs. Another reason may include an ongoing global recession.[70][71]

Turkey[edit source | edit]

In the 1960s, many skilled and educated people emigrated from Turkey, including many doctors and engineers. This emigration wave is believed to have been triggered by political instability, including the 1960 military coup. In later decades, into the 2000s, many Turkish professionals emigrated, and students studying overseas chose to remain abroad rather than return, mainly due to better economic opportunities. This brain drain was given national media attention, and in 2000, the government formed a task force to investigate the brain drain problem.[72]

Asia Pacific[edit source | edit]

Malaysia[edit source | edit]

There has been a serious brain drain from Malaysia. Major pull factors have included better career opportunities abroad and compensation while major push factors included corruption, social inequality, and educational opportunities, and the government's Bumiputera affirmative action policies. As of 2011, Bernama has reported that there are a million talented Malaysians working overseas.[73] Recently the brain drain has increased in pace: 305,000 Malaysians migrated overseas between March 2008 and August 2009 compared to 140,000 in 2007.[74] Non-Bumiputeras particularly Malaysian Indian and Malaysian Chinese were over-represented in these statistics. Popular destinations included Singapore, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.[75] This has caused Malaysia's economic growth rate to fall to an average of 4.6% per annum in the 2000s compared to 7.2% in the 1990s.[76]

Philippines[edit source | edit]

The term “brain drain” has been applied to the Philippines since the 1960s and continues to be relevant to their economic situation today. In particular, the term has been used to describe the Filipino nursing sector. Although the economic situation has changed in the last several decades, academics have tended to discuss the brain drain phenomenon in the Philippines as a historical progression from colonial and international ties.

Post-Colonial Philippines In 1946, colonialism in the Philippines ended with the election Manuel Roxas.[77] The Philippines’ infrastructure and economies had been devastated by WWII contributing to serious national health problems and uneven wealth distribution.[78] As part of reconstruction efforts to the newly independent state, education of nurses was encouraged to combat the low 1 nurse per 12 000 Filipinos ratio[79] and to help raise national health care standards. However Roxas having spent his prior 3 years as the secretary of finance and chairman of the National Economic Council and a number of other Filipino companies, was particularly concerned with the country’s financial (rather than health) problems.[78] The lack of government funding for rural community clinics and hospitals as well as low wages continued to perpetuate low nurse retention rates in rural areas and slow economic recovery. When the United States relaxed their Immigration Act laws in 1965, labor export emerged as a possible solution for the Philippines.

Labour export from the 1960s on Since the 1960s and 1970s, the Philippines has been the largest supplier of nurses to the United States, in addition to export labour supplied to the UK and Saudi Arabia.[80] In 1965, with a recovering post-WWII economy and facing labor shortages, the United States introduced a new occupational clause to the Immigration Act.[81] The clause encouraged migration of skilled labour into sectors experiencing a shortage,[81] particularly nursing, as well relaxing restrictions on race and origin.[82] This was seen as an opportunity for mass Filipino labour exportation by the Filipino government, and was followed by a boom in public and private nursing educational programs. Seeking access through the U.S. government sponsored Exchange Visitors Program (EVP), workers were encouraged to go abroad to learn more skills and earn higher pay, sending remittance payments back home.[83] Regarded as a highly feminized profession, most labour migrants have been predominantly female and young (25–30 years of age).[84]

Pursuing economic gains through labour migration over infrastructural financing and improvement, the Philippines still faced slow economic growth during the 1970s and 1980s.[85] With continuously rising demand for nurses in the international service sector and overseas, the Filipino government aggressively furthered their educational programs under the now elected President Ferdinande Marcos. Although complete statistical data can be difficult to collect, studies done in the 1970s show 13 500 nurses (or 85% of all Filipino nurses) had left the country to pursue work elsewhere.[86] Additionally, public and private nursing school programs multiplied from a reported 17 nursing schools in 1950, to 140 nursing schools in 1970.[87]

Remittances - An economic boost for the home country? Studies show wage discrepancies between the Philippines and developed countries such as the U.S. and the UK as stark. This has led Filipino government officials to note that remittances sent home may be seen as more economically valuable than pursuit of local work. Around the turn of the 20th century, the average monthly wage of Filipino nurses who remain in their home country was between 550 - 1000 pesos per month (roughly 70 - 140 USD at that time).[88] Comparatively the average nurse working in the U.S. was receiving 800 - 1400 USD per month.[88]

However scholars have noted that economic disparities in the Philippines have not been eased in the past decades. Although remittance payments account for a large portion of Filipino GDP (290.5 Million USD in 1978, increased to 10.7 Billion USD in 2005),[89] and are therefore regarded as a large economic boost to the state, Filipino unemployment has continued to rise (8.4% in 1990, increased to 12.7% in 2003).[89] Here scholars have begun to look at the culture of nurse migration endorsed by the Filipino state as a contributing factor the country’s economic and health problems.

Migration Culture of Nursing The Philippines spent only 3.6% of their GDP on health care and facilities in 2011, ranking them 170th by the World Health Organization on health spending.[90] Their health system, particularly in rural areas has been underfunded, understaffed and lacking advancements in health technologies causing retention difficulties and poor access to services.[91] However with reported figures of Filipino nursing graduates reaching 27 000 between 1999 and 2003, and jumping to a total of 26 000 in 2005 alone, there are clear discrepancies between skilled Filipino nurses and availability to health services in the country.[92] Scholars have pointed to the increasing privatization and commercialization of the nursing industry as a major reason for this loss of skill, i.e. brain drain.

Migration has arguably become a “taken-for-granted” aspect of a nursing career particularly with regards to the culture of migration that has been institutionally perpetuated in the health sector.[93] Most nursing schools have been built since the turn of the century and are concentrated primarily in metro Manila and other provincial cities. Of approximately 460 schools providing bachelors of nursing,[94] the majority are privately controlled, in part due to the inability of the Filipino government to keep up with rising education demand. However the private schooling has also been a lucrative business, playing on the desperation of Philippine labour looking for potential access to higher income.

Education Industry In addition to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) run by the government as a source of overseas recruitment agreements, and a marketer of Filipino labour overseas, private nursing schools have acted as migration funnels expanding enrollment, asserting control over licensure process, and entering into business agreements with other overseas recruitment agencies.[95] However retaining qualified instructors and staff has been reported to be as problematic as retaining actual nurses, contributing to low exam pass rates (only 12 of 175 reporting schools had pass rates of 90% or higher in 2005,[96] with an average pass rate of 42% across the country in 2006).[97] Private schools have also begun to control licensure exam review centers, providing extra preparation for international qualification exams at extra cost and with no guarantee of success.[98] It is estimated that between 1999 and 2006, 700 million USD was spent on nursing education and licensure review courses by individuals who never even took the licensing exams or were able to complete the programming.[99] With migrant nursing pushed as the most desirable route to higher income it is easy to see why the country is experiencing a serious brain drain in the health sector of not only nurses and physicians as well.

Discrepancies in wages between Filipino nurses working at home and those working abroad, as noted above, provide clear economic incentives for nurses to leave the country however physicians have also been lured into these promises of wealth through the creation of “Second Course” nursing programs.[100] Studies compare wages of at-home and abroad Filipino nurses from 2005-2010, with at-home nurses receiving 170 USD per month, or 2040 USD per annum, compared to a 3-4000 USD salary per month in the U.S., or 36-48 000 USD per annum.[101] Filipino Physician salaries of those working at home are not much more competitive, earning on average 300-800 USD per month or 3600-9600 USD per annum.[102] Although it is important to note with such discrepancies that the costs of living are also higher in the U.S., and remittance payment transfers back home are not free, there is still evidently a large economic pull to studying as a nurse and migrating overseas.

Brain Drain - The Push and Pull, and the lasting effects The Philippines’ colonial and post-WWII history contribute an understanding of the process by which nurses have increasingly turned to migration for greater economic benefits. Discussed in terms of numbers and financial gains, export labour migration has been suggested as a solution to the struggling Filipino economy with labour transfers and remittances payments seen as beneficial for both countries.[103] However noting that in 2004, 80% of all Filipino physicians had taken ‘second courses’ to retrain as nurses, it is suggested that export labour migration is undermining the national health sector of the country.[104]

With physicians and nurses leaving en mass for greater financial promise abroad, the ratio of nurse to patients in the Philippines has worsened from 1 nurse per 15-20 patients in 1990 to 1 nurse per 40-60 patients in 2007.[105] Additionally, the increase in private institution recruitment has evaded government oversight, and arguably has led to lower standards and working conditions for nurses actually working abroad. Once abroad, Filipino nurses have identified discriminatory workplace practices, receiving more night and holiday shifts, as well as more mundane tasks than non-Filipino counterparts.[106] Nurses also discuss the lack of opportunity to train and learn new skills, an enticement that is promoted by the Filipino export labour migration system.[107] Homesickness and lack of community integration can also cause great emotional duress on migrants, and with the majority of migrants female, family separation can cause negative impacts on both the migrant and the families.

Further critical inquiries into the success of export labour migration for the Philippines are needed. As noted, financial and economic statistics can not fully describe the complexity of en-mass migration of nurses and physicians. It is important to understand the multitude of elements which combine to encourage a culture of migration. Brain-drain as a phenomenon can be currently applied to the Filipino situation however it is important to note, this does not suggest export labour migration as the primary causal factor of the country’s current economic situation. Lack of government funding for health care systems in addition to the export labour migration culture, as well as other local factors, all contribute to what is described as the current brain-drain phenomenon occurring in the Philippines. It is important to understand the complexity of the nation’s history with regards to labour export and government funding, in order to determine benefits, costs, and perpetuated problems within the society’s infrastructure.

South Asia[edit source | edit]

India[edit source | edit]

The UNDP estimates that India loses $2 billion a year because of the emigration of computer experts to the U.S.[108] Indian students going abroad for their higher studies costs India a foreign exchange outflow of $10 billion annually.[109]

Nepal[edit source | edit]

Every year 250,000 youth are reported to leave Nepal for various reasons. They seek opportunities in its various manifestation — higher living standards, employment, better income, education, a luring western lifestyle, stability and security. The list entails everything Nepal is incapable of providing to the youth for the obvious reasons.[110]

Pakistan[edit source | edit]

The ever-increasing Pakistani diaspora through the migration of skilled labour from Pakistan to industrialized nations in Europe, North America and oil-rich Middle East has contributed to a professional brain drain in the country.[citation needed] In recent years, the uncertain political situation and better job opportunities abroad has allowed many Pakistanis to seek prospective interests outside the country.

While Pakistan is a semi-industrialised country that has not overtly been affected by a brain drain, a continuous emigration of professionals is thought to be an impediment in its long-term economic growth.[111] Each year, thousands of highly qualified doctors, engineers and scientists are said to move abroad, the most visible effect being an overall loss of skilled human resources.[112]

Sri Lanka[edit source | edit]

Sri Lanka has lost a significant portion of its intellectuals, mainly due to civil war and the resulting uncertainty that prevailed in the country for the thirty-year period prior to the end of the conflict in 2009. Most of these sought refuge in countries such as the United States of America, Australia, Canada, and Great Britain. In recent years, many expatriates have indicated interest in returning to Sri Lanka, but has been deterred by slow economic growth and political instability. Both the government and private organization are making efforts to encourage professionals to return to Sri Lanka and to retain residing intellectuals and professionals.

Eastern Asia[edit source | edit]

China[edit source | edit]

With rapid GDP growth and a higher degree of openness towards the rest of the world, China has been facing brain drain. A popular Internet writer recently caused a stir when he asserted that “all Chinese who earn more than 120,000 yuan ($17,650) a year want to immigrate [sic].” There has been upsurge in Chinese emigration to Western countries—particularly the United States, Canada and Australia—since the mid-first decade of the 21st century.[113] China became the biggest worldwide contributor of emigrants in 2007. According to the official Chinese media, 65,000 Chinese last year secured immigration or permanent resident status in the United States, 25,000 in Canada and 15,000 in Australia.[113] The largest group of emigrants consists of professionals and experts with a middle-class background,[113] who are the backbone for the development of China. As the biggest contributor of emigrants, China also suffers the worst brain drain in the world, according to a new study that found seven out of every 10 students who enroll in an overseas university never return to live in their homeland.[114]

The brain drain usually happens in two ways, including that the skilled intellectuals migrate to other countries, and students study overseas and then stay abroad. In China, both ways exist, but the second one is more popular and common.

Since the beginning of last century, international students were sent to different countries to learn advanced skills and knowledge, and they were expected to return to save the nation from invasion and poverty. While most of these students came back to make a living, there were still those who chose to stay abroad. From 1950s to 1970s, China was in a period of widespread upheaval due to political instability. As a result, many Chinese felt upset and disappointed about the situation. The situation did not improve after the gradual liberalization of China during the 80s; just as many people chose to go abroad since there were more opportunities overseas. More social upheavals happened with the Tiananmen Square Massacre—the result of which was an increasing Chinese diaspora. As steady economic growth boost GDP per capita, more families in China are able to support their children to go abroad for studying or living. All of these factors contribute to the current brain drain in China. In this day and age, most students do not go back to China if they are able to find a good job abroad. Wealthy Chinese people tend to settle down abroad to enjoy high quality of life.

Statistics of Brain Drain in China
Chart 1: Return rate of Chinese international students
Year# of students# returnedRate (%)

The statistics from this chart shows an increasing trend of Chinese international students from 1978 to 2006, while the number of people returned to China also increased. However, the return rate has fallen overall from about one-half to one-quarter.

Chart 2: Chinese students and scholars in US
YearChinese Students (Rank, of
US international students)
 % international
students in US
Chinese scholars % foreign scholars
in US
1990-139600 (1)9.7N/AN/A
1991-242910 (1)10.2N/AN/A
1992-345130 (1)10.3N/AN/A
1993-444380 (1)9.91115618.6
1994-539403 (2)8.7986617.0
1995-639613 (2)8.7922815.5
1996-742503 (2)7.8972415.6
1997-846958 (2)9.81070916.4
1998-951001 (1)10.41185416.8
1999-054466 (1)10.61322917.7
2000-159939 (1)10.91477218.5
2001-263211 (2)10.81562418.2
2002-364757 (2)11.01517118.0
2003-461765 (2)10.81492318.0
2004-562523 (2)11.11703519.0
2005-662582 (2)11.11901719.6
2006-767723 (2)11.62014920.5

Statistics sources[115]

Taiwan[edit source | edit]

For many years, Taiwan experienced a brain drain, with many Taiwanese educated in the United States remaining there. Taiwanese engineers who completed their undergraduate education at home often went to the US to obtain a PhD at an American university, and many remained in the United States afterwards. This was long a source of frustration to the country's microelectronics industry, but by 2013, the trend was reversing, with many Taiwanese returning after completing their studies in the US.[116]

Australasia[edit source | edit]

Pacific Islands[edit source | edit]

The post-WWII migration trends in the Pacific Islands has essentially followed these trends

New Zealand[edit source | edit]

During the 1990s, 30,000 New Zealanders were emigrating each year. An OECD report released in 2005 revealed that 24.2% of New Zealanders with a tertiary education were living outside of New Zealand, predominantly in Australia.[117] In 2007, around 24,000 New Zealanders settled in Australia.[118]

During the 2008 election campaign, the National Party campaigned on the ruling Labour Party's inability to keep New Zealanders at home, with a series of billboards announcing "Wave goodbye to higher taxes, not your loved ones".[119] However four years after winning that election, the exodus to Australia had intensified, surpassing 53,000 per annum in 2012.[120] Prime Minister John Key blamed the global financial crisis for the continuing drain.[121]

Since taking power in late 2008, it is estimated 170,000 Kiwis have left for Australia, as of December 2012.[122]

It has been noted that New Zealand also enjoys immigration of qualified foreigners, potentially leaving a net gain of skills.[123] Nevertheless, one reason for New Zealand's attempt to target immigration at 1% of its population per year is because of its high rate of emigration, which leaves its migration balance either neutral or slightly positive.

North America[edit source | edit]

Canada[edit source | edit]

Colonial administrators in Canada observed the trend of human capital flight to the United States as early as the 1860s, when it was already clear that a majority of immigrants arriving at Quebec City were en route to destinations in the United States. Alexander C. Buchanan, government agent at Quebec, argued that prospective emigrants should be offered free land to remain in Canada. The problem of attracting and keeping the right immigrants has been a constant in Canadian immigration history.[124]

In the 1920s, over 20% of university graduating classes in engineering and science were emigrating to the United States. When governments displayed no interest, concerned industrials formed the Technical Service Council in 1927 to combat the brain drain. As a practical means of doing so, the Council operated a placement service that was free to graduates.

By 1976, the Council had placed over 16,000 men and women. Between 1960 and 1979 over 17,000 engineers and scientists emigrated to the United States. But the exodus of technically trained Canadians leaving dropped from 27% of the graduating classes in 1927 to under 10% in 1951 and 5% in 1967.

In Canada today, the idea of a brain drain to the United States is occasionally a domestic political issue. At times, 'brain drain' is used as a justification for income tax cuts. During the 1990s, some alleged a brain drain from Canada to the United States, especially in the software, aerospace, health care and entertainment industries, due to the perception of higher wages and lower income taxes in the US.[125] Some also suggest that engineers and scientists were also attracted by the greater diversity of jobs and a perceived lack of research funding in Canada.

The evidence suggests that, in the 1990s, Canada did indeed lose some of its homegrown talent to the US.[126] Nonetheless, Canada hedged against these losses by attracting more highly skilled workers from abroad. This allowed the country to realize a net brain gain as more professionals entered Canada than left (even today, Canada still enjoys a net brain gain).[126] Sometimes, the qualifications of these migrants are given no standing in Canada (see credentialism), resulting in some - though not all - highly skilled professionals being forced into lower paying service sector jobs.

Brain drain is still a significant issue in Atlantic provinces such as New Brunswick, where a relative lack of jobs results in many of the fully educated to move to other provinces such as Nova Scotia, Alberta, or British Columbia. Brain gain also occurs here, however, through immigration. This often causes controversy among the working class as to whether or not enough jobs are available for born Canadians.

More recently however, Canada's resilient economy, strong domestic market, enviable standard of living, and considerable wage growth across a number of sectors, have effectively ended the brain drain debate in Canada.[127][128] Canada's economic success has also prompted some top US talent to migrate to Canada.[127][128][129][130][131] In the first decade of the 21st century, Canadian productivity grew while US productivity evened out.[127] Anecdotal evidence also suggests that stringent US security measures put in place after September 11th, 2001 have helped to end the brain drain debate in Canada.[132]

United States[edit source | edit]

The 2000 United States Census Bureau published a special report on domestic worker migration, with a focus on the movement of young, single, college-educated migrants.[133] The data shows a trend of such people moving away from the Rust Belt and northern Great Plains region towards the West Coast and Southeast. The area with the largest net influx of young, single, college-educated persons was the San Francisco Bay Area.

The country as a whole does not experience a large-scale brain drain to other countries, with an emigration rate of only 0.7 per 1,000 educated people,[134] but it is often the destination of skilled workers migrating from elsewhere in the world.[135] However, the United States (like other countries) has been experiencing widespread rural depopulation in the past few decades, which have seen many young rural graduates moving to urban/suburban areas. This has negatively impacted US rural communities.[136] America's immigrant students have been notable for the brain drain, regarding this issue, Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said of nations law that "We educate them, but then we don't make it easy for them to stay".[137]

Latin America[edit source | edit]

There is a surge of intellectuals leaving Latin America who are usually doctors, architects, and engineers. They often choose the US as their destination. However, after migrating, most of them work in jobs that have nothing to do with their original majors. Therefore, it is not only brain drain for their own countries, but also brain waste for the whole world.[138]

In some Latin American nations, where enrollment at local medical schools is very high, there is a chronic shortage of doctors.

A 2000 study revealed that a number of Latin American countries had, over the years, suffered a considerable loss of professionals. As a percentage of each country's corps of university graduates, the following percentages lived overseas:

CountryLoss of professionals

The same study revealed that during the 1990s, a significant number of those who emigrated from Latin America were specialized professionals, constituting the following proportions as a percent of each country's volume of emigrants:

CountryLoss of professionals

Cuba[edit source | edit]

In 2007, Cuban officials claimed that 31,000 Cuban doctors were deployed in 61 countries.[141] A large number practice in South America. 20,000 are employed in Venezuela in exchange for nearly 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) of oil per day.[142] However, state employees serving at assigned foreign posts that earn money or resources for their government do not exactly fall under the definition of brain drain. From Venezuela and Bolivia, where another 1,700 doctors work, it is thought that as many as 500 doctors may have fled the missions into countries nearby; these would constitute brain drain.[141] Figures are dubious, since the defections are rarely made public.

Caribbean[edit source | edit]

Most of the Caribbean Islands endure a substantial emigration of qualified workers. Approximately 30% of the labour forces of many islands have left, and more than 80% of college graduates from Suriname, Haiti, Grenada and Guyana have emigrated, mostly to the United States.[143] Over 80% of Jamaicans with higher education live abroad.[144] However, it is noted that these nationals pay valuable remittances. In Jamaica, the money sent back amounts to 18% of GNP.[145] This calls into question whether this trend can be described as a true brain drain.

Preventative measures[edit source | edit]

Talents play important roles in helping a country develop. The economy of a country that has a large number of world-class scientists and technicians can be more innovative than the others that don't.[146] Different areas and nations have distinct policies to retain skilled workers due to the different national or regional situation. For instance, in African countries, the health systems have been severely affected by brain drain, so various measures have been suggested and tried to limit the migration of health workers to rich countries.[147] In Kuwait, people have argued the country should cultivate a sense of security and hope among the elite to curb brain drain because people are not so confident of their countries' future.[148] China tries to create a normal and free atmosphere and mechanism that would help talents flourish.[146] And in India, although suffering severe brain drain every year, the Indian government has not to adopted strict policies because they believe that the overseas talent will eventually contribute to the nation in the future.[149] Germany established a government funded initiative called GAIN to assist Germans working abroad to return to their home country. Other countries (Switzerland, Austria, France) have similar initiatives.

An opposite situation to brain drain, in which many trained and talented individuals seek entrance into a country, is called a brain gain; this may create a brain drain in the nations that the individuals are leaving. A Canadian symposium in the late 1990s gave circulation to the new term, in response to Canada luring more skilled professionals to the country than it lost.[citation needed]

In 2000, the US Congress announced that it was raising the annual cap on the number of temporary work visas granted to highly skilled professionals under its H1B visa program, from 115,000 to 195,000 per year, effective through 2003. That suggests a rough figure for the influx of talent into the United States at that time. A significant portion of this program was initiated by lobbyists from the computer industry, including Bill Gates.[150] In the same year the government of the United Kingdom, in cooperation with the Wolfson Foundation, a research charity, launched a £20 million, five-year research award scheme aimed at drawing the return of the UK's leading expatriate scientists and sparking the migration of top young researchers to the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

Brain circulation[edit source | edit]

In general most developing countries suffer brain drain because emigrant intellectuals refuse to return. Some migrants do return to their home countries or become transnational with homes in different countries.[151]

Brain waste[edit source | edit]

Sometimes migrants to other countries or urban areas are not able to obtain employment commensurate with their educational qualifications. This is called brain waste.[151] An example would be a Nigerian doctor who immigrates to Europe but works in the service industry, or even worse ends up doing menial jobs.

The advantages of the brain drain[edit source | edit]

The brain drain is effectively an export of human resources such as – “education services” which has inadvertently “become a money machine for countries such as the US contributing over $7 bn to the US economy”.[152] However it is important to note the knowledge and wealth generated is twofold, both for the country of origin and host country, who acquire an additional human capital to fill labour gaps thus increasing economic development. The country of origin exporting their skilled and highly educated workforce benefit from a brain gain both in terms of the increase in the labour power they possess, but also in the fact “skilled migrants leaving the country generate increased demand for higher level education amongst the population”[153] Furthermore, the sending back of remittances increase economic development in the country and standard of living. Circular migration presents a number of benefits associated with brain drain. First, the economy of the origin country may not be able to take advantage of the skilled laborers, so it becomes more beneficial for the workers to migrate and send back remittances. Second, when the migrant workers return home as part of the circular pattern, they may bring with them new skills and knowledge.

Remittances are a positive effect of the brain drain because they increase living standards in society as Faini notes “skilled migrants typically earn more therefore remit more thus fostering growth”,[154] nevertheless, this is not a precedent. The remittance economy is a significant part of the brain drain as well an integral source of income for developed economies, “2011 remittances were estimated at $372bn”[155] and for countries such as Mexico and the Philippines was worth “$24 and $34 billion” [155] respectively.

Negative consequences of the brain drain[edit source | edit]

Whilst the brain drain is beneficial its flaws are inherently in its title because it usually involves the loss of human capital i.e. skilled labour force who are vital to the development of society and the country as a whole. In the case of skilled man power Alam et al. recognise emigration of these skilled workers as “essentially providing personal benefits for individuals rather than public benefits”.[156]

The brain drain benefits individuals more so than society; however, “implementing policies to reduce their movement” according to Skeldon "is in effect to act against the process of development”.[153] This inadvertently means society is caught in a catch 22 scenario, whereby allowing the Brain Drain to continue is likely to result in knowledge being distributed unevenly” [152] across space, resulting in the fall in economic development for either the country of origin or destination countries.

Another consequence of the brain drain is the existence of social marginalisation which occurs due to several reasons. For example, highly skilled labourers have been villainised by society because they may be perceived as a disruption to existing society. The migrants themselves, who have struggled to adapt to their new surroundings and way of life, may subsequently perceive themselves as living 'parallel lives.' Although the more pressing issue skilled migrants face in contemporary society is what Tsuda refers to as “double marginalisation”,[157] which refers to when migrants are kept from integrating into their new surroundings either by society or by existing governments, and upon their return home are shunned by the community they originally migrated from due to their earlier departure. Double marginalisation has become a common feature in contemporary society, which has in some respects reduced the amount of skilled migration occurring.

Negative impact of brain drain on health systems of developing countries[edit source | edit]

Despite the existence of significant global efforts trying to improve health and healthcare systems in the developing world, the money invested is insufficient as health workers from the developing countries leave their home countries and immigrate to the developed world assuming low-status positions in rich countries. This phenomenon is known as ‘brain drain’. Those health workers, the brains, are drained from their countries, while being attracted to the higher income abroad comparing to their income back home. As a result of many local health workers abandoning their countries, countries in the developing world lack sufficient health care workers, which harms the local health system: health systems in the developing world are receiving financial aid to deal with significant diseases and health issues such as child mortality, AIDS, and Malaria. However the money is ineffective as there is no sufficient manpower in the form of medical and health professionals to do the work required, which further damages the health system rather than strengthening it.[158]

The utility of the brain drain[edit source | edit]

The assumption is ‘skilled workers migrating are likely to increase remittances to the home country’,[156] however this is not always the case. A critic of Faini’s view of skilled migrants remitting more is Graeme Hugo, who recognises the fact that “highly skilled workers are often able to bring immediate family with them so they are not obliged to send money back” [159] making the brain drain highly problematic for society especially when countries invest up to ‘$50,000 on highly skilled individuals’.[156]

In assessing the usefulness of the brain drain it is important to understand that for some of the world’s developing countries “the gains from migration accrue neither from migrant remittances nor do they return home with amplified skills acquired abroad”.[160] They are instead from the increase in promotion of education of highly skilled labour in developing countries as well as investment in infrastructure. Nonetheless the existence of vast “remittance economy worldwide worth $510 billion in 2007”[155] to a degree question whether Stark's claim are entirely accurate as this process is seemingly occurring at an alarming rate generating uneven levels of development globally.

See also[edit source | edit]

Footnotes[edit source | edit]

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