This lesson will discuss an economic slang term, brain drain. It will give a definition and explanation of the term, possible causes, and effects. To clarify, a few examples will also be included.
Definition of Brain Drain
Brain drain can be described as the process in which a country loses its most educated and talented workers to other countries through migration.
This trend is considered a problem, because the most highly skilled and competent individuals leave the country, and contribute their expertise to the economy of other countries. The country they leave can suffer economic hardships because those who remain don’t have the ‘know-how’ to make a difference.Brain drain can also be defined as the loss of the academic and technological labor force through the moving of human capital to more favorable geographic, economic, or professional environments. More often than not, the movement occurs from developing countries to developed countries or areas.
Causes of Brain Drain
There are various causes of brain drain, but they differ depending on the country that’s experiencing it. The main causes include seeking employment or higher paying jobs, political instability, and to seek a better quality of life.
Causes of brain drain can be categorized into push factors and pull factors.The push factors are negative characteristics of the home country that form the impetus for intelligent people migrating from Lesser Developed Countries (LDC). In addition to unemployment and political instability, some other push factors are the absence of research facilities, employment discrimination, economic underdevelopment, lack of freedom, and poor working conditions.
Pull factors are the positive characteristics of the developed country from which the migrant would like to benefit. Higher paying jobs and a better quality of life are examples of pull factors. Other pull factors include superior economic outlook, the prestige of foreign training, relatively stable political environment, a modernized educational system to allow for superior training, intellectual freedom, and rich cultures. These lists are not complete; there may be other factors, some of which can be specific to countries or even to individuals.
Effects of Brain Drain on the Home Country
When brain drain is prevalent in a developing country, there may be some negative repercussions that can affect the economy. These effects include but are not limited to:
- Loss of tax revenue
- Loss of potential future entrepreneurs
- A shortage of important, skilled workers
- The exodus may lead to loss of confidence in the economy, which will cause persons to desire to leave rather than stay
- Loss of innovative ideas
- Loss of the country’s investment in education
- The loss of critical health and education services
Brain drain is usually described as a problem that needs to be solved.
However, there are benefits that can be derived from the phenomena. When people move from LDC countries to developed countries, they learn new skills and expertise, which they can utilize to the advantage of the home economy once they return. Another benefit is remittances; the migrants send the money they earn back to the home country, which can help to stimulate the home country’s economy.
Possible Actions to Curb Brain Drain
The drawbacks of brain drain outweigh the benefits, so there are some moves that governments can make to reduce the number of highly educated and skilled workers that relocate to other countries.
One way that governments can keep its skilled workers is to ensure that citizens feel safe and to take steps to stimulate economic activity.Other solutions include higher wages, creating a better educational system so that citizens do not have to go overseas for higher education. Also, when paying for higher education, governments can withhold the award of the degree until the individual returns and agrees to work in the home country.
Examples of Brain Drain
Brain drain has been taking place on a global scale for many years. Here are a few examples:
The European Union or EU
When countries such as Poland and Romania joined the European Union, it meant that barriers to movement between countries were removed. Citizens of these countries moved to other countries like the United Kingdom for better paying jobs and a better standard of living.
The education system in India is one of the best in the world.
But oftentimes, when scholars have completed the training, they’re unable to find employment that matches their qualifications, so they move to countries like the U.S. for better economic opportunities.
Beginning in the early 1990s, highly regarded professionals began to move westward or to socialist countries to work in science and economics. Today, the Russian government is making investments in programs that it hopes would lure those professionals back and to encourage future professionals to stay.
Brain drain is a problem described as the process in which a country loses its most educated and talented workers to other countries through migration. The causes of brain drain include push factors, which are negative characteristics of the home country that forms the impetus for intelligent people migrating from Lesser Developed Countries, such as political instability, and pull factors, which are the positive characteristics of the developed country from which the migrant would like to benefit, such as higher paying jobs.
Negative effects include loss of tax revenues by the home country, and a loss of key health and education service professionals.
Points to Remember
- Brain drain is the process in a which a country or area loses it most talented and educated workers to other countries or areas
- Brain drain occurs due to push and pull factors between countries or areas
- The negative effects of brain drain on the home country include loss of educated individuals for key sectors and loss of tax revenue
Once you are done, you should be able to:
- Explain what brain drain is
- List some of the causes and effects of brain drain
- Discuss ways to prevent the negative effects of brain drain on the home country