3.2 Comparative Education: Do you know the effects of Brain Drain?


3.2 Discuss five effects of brain drain.


Brain drain has effects to both the country of origin and that of destination. For parent country,

the migration of professionals is more than a financial concern because such individuals are the elite without which a national development will suffer.  Consequently, if the “human value” is used, the figures that are produced are large relative to the aid given.  This factor has been used to show the problem of brain drain and to demand action on the country involved.

Secondly, when a country loses a highly skilled person through emigration there is likely to be short run adjustment cost arises from the fact that efficiency requires an optical mix of human capital with physical capital and unskilled labour.  When an engineer leaves a plant, in the extreme case, machine and labour have to remain idle until a replacement is found. This temporary lose can be eliminated if the departure of the engineer is known in advance and a replacement has been trained. The replacement of skilled person requires time consuming education.

The population of a country taxes itself to finance the operation of institutions on study of citizen abroad.  This collective investment in education is made in expectations of general returns to the society.  This can lead to increase in productivity and greater tax base in order to raise more revenue to be spent on further development and welfare projects and the country as a whole.

The  competitive  selection  of  education  tends  to  provide  education  on  the  most  gifted  and dynamic  young  people  who  are  sources  of  leadership.    Therefore,  their  migration  abroad represents serious loss of leadership because the investment has lost and involves a great inequality. The projects for the provision of the very basic technology and medical services in less developed countries suffer or have to be abandoned because of lack of skilled personnel while those emigrants contributes to the unnecessary mixing of technical and medical projects in industrialized countries. For example, the current mass exodus of nurses and doctors from Ghana to Britain leaves the country in problems because most of them are trained within the country. The UN Economic Commission for Africa and the International Organization for Migration estimates that since 1990 at least 20,000 people leave the continent annually.

In cases where the education was financed by the government the emigrants then owe the government, the obligation is payable through taxes which are used to provide public pensions, medical care and welfare for the elderly. Thus those left behind face an increased tax burden to take care of the above services. Developing countries express concern that emigration deprives these nations of their best human resources, represent a transfer of educational investment from the poor to rich countries and leads to abuses or exploitation of their workers. Out migration can also pose the risk of rather serious and sometimes dramatic economic problems and the need to make sudden adaptations when migrants return unexpectctedly and in large numbers.

Those students who have studied abroad may bring home techniques suited to country of study but wasteful and too technical for Home County.  Thus the home country losses its investment in it’s upbringing and education.

There are some positive effects, which can be attained by the home country.   First to home country  may  benefit  if  it  has  excessive  number  of  persons  in  a  certain  speciality.    The immigration may relieve unemployment and increase the security to pay those who remained. Some professionals may remit money home and thereby the country may gain exchange.  The World Bank study of labour exporting countries recorded receipt of about $23 billion in remittance in 1978, which is equivalent to about 10% of the value of their exports of goods and service.  Although professional and technical manpower constituted 4% of Pakistan emigrants to the Middle East in 1979, they earned about 17% of total migrant income and third per capital remittance averaged $4,500 per year more than twice that of unskilled workers.

If the professionals come back, they are always, equipped with technical and managerial skills essential for development. The highly skilled people may occasionally create negative externalities by providing the stimulus for civil unrest and revolutions, that turn out not to have been in the long-term interest of the country.   The emigration of highly skilled potential revolutionaries may then have positive externalities for their home country.

On the part of migrants receiving country, the labour force contributes a lot to the development of industries.  For example, in Australia, 58 % of the country’s post war growth is due to the inflow of foreigners.  Also, Kuwait and united Arab Emirate stand out with, respectively, 69% and 85% of the non-national in their workforce proportion which are known to have risen.  These countries have manpower without having to pay the cost of the emigrants’ development and education.   Some of them may be unusually innovative; have notable achievement in the sciences and humanities.  This may increase the cultural and national status of the country and encourage foreign infusion.  But the receiving country may receive some negative publicity through internal forums.

In other cases the emigrant may not be as well trained as local professionals and may not relate well to public services in quality.  If the person is a genius, ethnic and racial tension may arise.


In order to curb brain drain for the less developed countries a number of proposals need to be implemented.  First the home government needs to raise the salaries and improve the working conditions in their countries. The government should offer higher wages for insiders according to their qualifications instead of estimating and hiring expatriates, which is more costly. The government  should  guarantee  jobs  for  those  who  might  return  and  recruiting  abroad  for important public service positions for example the government of Korea successfully lured back Korean scientists trained abroad.

In cases where there was political turmoil, a change in political set up as it happened in Jamaica in 1975 and in Nigeria in 1997 may encourage migrants to return.   But this is a very tricky position for any country. Good governance at the national and international level, especially maintenance of reasonable security for peoples lives and property is essential for economic progress. Transparency in leadership is essential and should be maintained. For the politically distressed countries the professionals may be relocated to places  where they can be productive rather than confining them in refugee camps and then return home once the situation in their countries normalizes.

The government can encourage economic incentives on selective basis.     For example the government of Sri Lanka launched a programme in 1979 to encourage professionals to stay or return home by revising its pension systems, easing exchange controls so that people could finance the education of their children abroad and by facilitating re-entry of senior staff to appropriate positions in the government.

Education plays a powerful role especially in the growing problems of international migration. Therefore, offering those individuals the necessary education qualifications in their homes countries and expanding a better educational infrastructure may definitely prevent emigrants who are seeking a higher education abroad. Furthermore seeking alternative measures for return of warranty from the beneficiaries, such as the withholding of academic degrees until the graduates return and are willing to serve the people may be another considerable alternative.

Another proposal, are imposing heavy emigrating taxes and passport fess on trained manpower in  order  to  discourage  them  from  leaving  and  introducing  compulsory  public  services employment for certain categories of personnel akin to the military service as it being tried for medical doctors in Turkey. The restrictive policies should be aimed at delaying emigration such as adding extra years to medical students’ training. Various tax proposals have been put forward as government realize that the large numbers of citizens living outside their borders are a potential economic resource.For example due to economic hard ships, Zimbabwe has come up with a new proposal where graduates who received state assistance are now required to surrender a third of their salaries if they choose to work in a foreign countries on completion of their studies. The cash strapped government has set up a special cadet scheme whose stringent conditions it hopes will stem a crippling brain drain that has hit most of the countries economic sectors. The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education has come up with conditions and a memorandum of agreement for special cadets who access state funds to pay for their studies. Other proposals include one-time exit taxes to bilateral tax arrangement, which would require the receiving nations to tax citizens of another and remunerate the home country. Another strategy may include adoption of international agreements by industrialized and developing nations under which the wealthy countries should pledge not to recruit people from developing countries. Adopting a strategy that involves transferring skills through networks of professionals and intellectuals and the time-tested approach of repartiation can enhance this. Lastly, urban rules should be handed by the less developed countries for certain categories of temporary immigrants that require them to leave upon completion of their study or research mission.

There is a large and growing pool of African scientist living and working in the industrialized world. African countries should develop and adopt strategies to mobilize and utilize their Diaspora.  The  region  can  no  longer  afford  to  ignore  this  capital.  Indeed  it  should  tap  the enormous  scientific  and  technological  talents  of  African  abroad  and  use  them  for  its  own scientific and technological development.In conclusion, due to the impact urbanization and globalization, the less developed countries have to change their modes of education to suit the market.   They also have to readjust their economics with the global trends and put policies, which can encourage their professionals to remain within the country.  Those countries with political regime, which do not take care of professionals, and war ravaged countries will always face emigration and brain drain.





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