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Monday, May 19, 2008

Brain drain: consequences for developing countries

A recent paper by the Austrian research institute for international development (ÖFSE) describes policies of the UN, EU and OECD regarding migration and the consequences of 'brain drain' for developing countries.

All three organisations agree on certain demands regarding an international migration policy including:
  • the promotion of regular and the fight against illegal migration
  • an improved migration management
  • stronger connection between migration and development
  • increased coherence between the related policies
  • promotion of circular migration, a stronger usage of remittance and enhanced cooperation between Diaspora groups
Nonetheless, there are differences regarding the inclusion of human rights aspects which is strongly supported by the UN, and the prioritisation of migration control as seen in the EU.

The paper describes the consequences of 'brain drain' for developing countries. Negative aspects are the loss of human capital, causing shortages in strategic sectors like health, education, public services, industry and science and a loss of national economic investment and tax revenue. But there are also positive sides like remittances, transfers of knowledge and technology ('brain gain') and the positive role of Diaspora communities in the support of economic entrepreneurship in developing countries.

It highly depends on the context whether the migration of skilled personnel has positive consequences on a country of origin. In general the paper concludes that weak countries get weaker and strong countries gain.

The authors suggest more research on the topic with stronger considerations regarding the context of migration and elaborations on the differences between countries.

by Martin Behrens

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