Brain drain is the situation when skilled human resources migrate on a large scale to more developed countries for better opportunities, career growth, higher salaries, lifestyle, education, trade, political stability, etc. Trained and skilled professionals of poor countries or less developed areas like to migrate to higher-income countries that give birth to the brain drain scenarios.
Brain drain is a slang word applied to indicate the actual departure or the relocation of individuals. It results in losing several high-skilled professionals from a country, industry, or organization. Primarily in such migration, home countries or source countries are the developing, politically unstable, or poor nations while the destination countries or host countries are developed nations that offer better opportunities for educational attainment, health services, and economic reasons.
Brain drain is one of the severe concerns around the world due to its aftereffects on the health as well as social systems of low-income countries or developing nations because their investment in high-skilled workers or highly educated professionals or intellectuals gives benefits to the recipient countries that have not forked out the cost and time of educating those resources.
In this article, we will dig deep into the world of brain drain, how it affects civil society as an urban crisis in developing nations while what its aftereffects are in the developed world. So, without any further ado, let us get started-
What is Brain Drain?
Definition: Brain drain is defined as a substantial emigration or migration of intellectuals from poor or developing countries to developed countries. It occurs because of the instability in a nation, or lack of growth opportunities, or a desire of enjoying a better standard of living, or a few other reasons.
In general form, brain drain is understood in a geographical scenario but you might also notice it in organizational or industrial levels when workers move to another company or industry in the quest of better pay, opportunity, benefits, or fulfillment.
Due to its occurrence, source countries, industries, or organizations lose major portions of their empowered human potential. All in all, the term Brain Drain often refers to the departure or relocation of several individuals like intellectuals, doctors, engineers, financial professionals, scientists, etc. It is also known as a human capital flight.
Reasons for Brain Drains
In general, people get disenchanted in their origin country because of low rewards available for their qualifications and experience causing them to migrate to developed countries.
Some of the common reasons because of which the brain drain takes place are-
- Confusion within a country
- Availability of beneficial career options in other countries or organizations
- Living a life of higher stature
- Lack of employment and low salary
- Political instability
- Scholars expectations not met
Aftereffects of Brain Drain
It generally associates with the departure of groups of engineers, scientists, healthcare professionals, doctors, financial professionals, etc from a source country, industry, or organization that harms the place in the following ways-
- Experience and knowledge regarding a profession are faded away with every migrant
- The supplies of the professions concerned get subsided
- The economy of a country, industry, or organization is damaged as each profession has its share of the economy over these sectors
Types of Brain Drain
Some of the general types of brain drain are-
1. Geographic Brain Drains
When professionals or talented individuals move from one region and country to another one to experience better opportunities, it is called Geographic Brain Drain. The reasons that lead to this kind of brain drain are-
- The lack of persistence or stability in the field of politics
- The limited service from healthcare units
- The lifestyle that appears unprivileged
- The absence of good opportunities in the sector of the economy
2. Organizational Brain Drains
When a group of professional workers takes their leaves from a company or an organization they previously worked for, it is called Organizational Brain Drain. This happens due to the following reasons-
- The professionals feel or experience a lack of stability at their working places
- The absence of better opportunities within a company or an organization
- The goals of their careers can be met in another company more efficiently
3. Industrial Brain Drains
When skilled and talented workers leave any particular company and an entire industry as a whole, it is called Industrial Brain Drain. This kind of Brain Drain happens due to:
- The swift evolution of the economic landscape
- Incompetence to maintain changes, both technological and social
- The lack of opportunities that the workers look for
4. Gross Brain Drains
When a state fails in the task of persuading its talented and skilled individuals (when they are children) to stay in that state after becoming adults, it results in gross brain drain.
It refers to the share of leavers that are highly educated subtracting the share of adults who stay in their birth state and are highly educated. In this case, that state suffers from the deficiency of its ‘homegrown’ talents because of this out-migration.
5. Net Brain Drains
It refers to the share of leavers that are highly educated subtracting the share of entrants to a state that is highly educated.
When the level of out-migration of a state surpasses the level of in-migration in that state, it is called net brain drain. In this type, a condition not only lacks its ‘homegrown’ talents but there occurs a lack of talents from other states as well.
6. Absolute Brain Drains
The kind of brain drain, which is based on the educational outset at the national level, is known as the absolute brain drain.
Absolute net brain drain is understood as the difference between the share of leavers that are highly educated and the share of entrants that are highly educated.
7. Relative Brain Drains
In this type, the brain drain is caused based on the educational outset at the state level. Hence, it is known as the relative brain drain.
Brain Drain from Developing Country
From the year 1960 onwards, the population of rich countries has been tripled with foreign-born people. Besides, the migration rate of talented individuals from developing countries to those rich and developed ones has experienced rapid growth.
There are several countries which try their level best to offer better opportunities to foreign workers or students. This can enhance the possibility of Brain Drain in the sending (i.e. developing) countries, and for those developing countries, Brain Drain can often be a curse or a boon.
Brain Drain from developing countries can result in the following adverse consequences-
- The skill structure of the labor force gets transformed.
- There occurs a scarcity of laborers.
- The fiscal policy gets affected.
Based on developing countries’ policy objectives and characteristics, Brain Drain can offer both advantages and disadvantages to them. The lists appear below-
Advantages of Brain Drain
- Brain Drain enhances education.
- It cuts down the costs of international transactions.
- It helps in the positive growth of the economy.
- Sometimes, it produces benefits in the developing countries from those who come back and those in a foreign land.
- It influences the flows of money order.
- If the policies are correctly adjusted, the benefits can be increased, whereas the costs of Brain Drain can be decreased.
Disadvantages of Brain Drain
- Brain Drain can result in losses of revenue.
- After a certain period, it brings down the source of human capital and initiating deformation and distortion of the occupations.
- At times, it goes beyond the limits of the economic growth in a large surrounding of the developing countries.
Factors that affect Brain Drain
Brain Drain’s impact on the development and welfare of a country may appear to be either positive or negative. In the case of the developing countries, the results are largely negative. The factors that determine what kind of impact it would be are listed down.
- The structure and the balance of the process of migration
- The proportion of development in the countries
- The dimension of population.
- The language of the country.
- The location of the country, based on geography
- Economic development
- Skilled workers
Statistics about Brain Drain
In the year 2000, nearly 2.9% of the population worldwide, which refers to approximately 175 million people, were spending their lives in foreign countries for more than one year.
Among them, around 65 million people appeared to be active based on the economy. In this process of Brain Drain, most of the migrants were mainly skilled professionals from healthcare units, such as doctors, nurses, etc.
Around the 1940s, international migration was considered as one of the key public health concerns when several European intellectuals and health professionals emigrated to the UK and the USA.
World Health Organization (WHO) published a detailed 40-country study in the year 1970 concerning the magnitude and flow of the health service professionals. As per the report, around 90% of all migrating physicians moved to Australia, Germany, Canada, the USA, and the UK.
Another study of 1972 suggested that around 6% of the world’s physicians (140 000) were located outside their origin countries. The key donor countries were the colonial or those with linguistic ties such as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, etc. Some of the countries that had more physicians than they could absorb were identified as India, Egypt, Pakistan, South Korea, Philippines, etc.
Higher education is also considered as one of the key reasons for brain drain & permanent emigration. Around 50% of the foreign-born graduate students in the USA, France, and the UK keep on staying there after completing their studies. As per an analysis in 1975 in the USA on the doctoral graduates in science and engineering around 80% of those from India and 88% from China stayed in the USA after completing their studies.
Let us have a look at some of the countries and continents to understand how brain drain is affecting their socio-political as well as demographic setups-
Brain Drain in Europe
During the 1940s, a large number of health professionals from Europe migrated to the U.K. and the USA. It was then that the process of migration on an international level happened to be of major concern in public healthcare.
Later on, in the 1970s, a study concerning forty countries, conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that nearly 90% of the migrated healthcare professionals were stepping to five countries mainly- i) Australia, ii) Canada, iii) Germany, iv) the USA, and v) the U.K.
Brain Drain in the United States
A strong inclination towards moving abroad can be noticed distinctively among skilled and talented professionals of America.
Although the rate of this Brain Drain has slowed down over the past few decades, still between one-third and one-quarter of professionals from the United States have moved to foreign countries within the last five years.
However, two types of immigrants exist- i) Trained and educated individuals who can move, and ii) Less educated individuals who are stuck and cannot move even if they want to.
In recent times, a report published by the Social Capital Project of the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress has drawn attention to the actual scenario of Brain Drain across fifty states. The U.S. Census Data from the year 1940 to 2017 has been used to build this report.
The report shows that people belonging to the age group of 31-40, people who have completed their higher education, in their post-college or post-graduate-school years, mainly fall under the category of movers to grab better opportunities abroad.
Brain Drain in Africa
A report titled “World Economic Outlook”, published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in October 2016, points out the fact that “Brain drain is particularly acute in sub-Saharan Africa”.
However, the Brain Drain in Africa started a long time ago, in the 1980s. In general, the human capital of Africa has always been at stake. On top of that, the relocation or migration of young, educated, talented, and professional individuals makes the situation worse.
Research has also anticipated that the number of African immigrants would experience growth from 7 million to nearly 34 million between 2013-2050.
Brain Drain in India
Among the Indians, opting for higher education at universities abroad has become popular and a priority for them. According to a survey, it has come into view that nearly 0.75 million students were receiving their education at overseas universities in the year 2018.
In addition to that, many reports have shown that half of the students who had acquired first positions in class 10 and 12 examinations, from the year 1996 to 2015, had traveled overseas for education. Some of them even had been settled down there with a steady job. A significant part of this mass prefers the United States.
In India, dissatisfaction is growing among the students daily due to the lack of innovative courses, which those foreign universities offer. Besides, job seekers are also getting employed abroad because of the lesser opportunities and absence of variety in earning a living in their native country.
But the Government of India is trying to control this Brain Drain by developing skills through its National Skill Development Mission. They aim to train nearly 400 million people across the entire nation by the year 2022.
Cultural and political concern about Brain Drain
Brain Drain should also be considered one of the essential aspects of political and cultural concern at the national level.
Since some states get transformed into the nests of many college graduates and on the other hand, a lot of non-graduates end up disproportionately dwelling in other states, the differentiation between the social statuses, as well as culture across the various regions of a country, becomes worse.
This segregation in culture may lead to creating divisions between the political ideologies among the people.
The political division based on the geographical location among the immigrants would be enhanced due to the economic inequality. For instance, the political division between the coastal cosmopolitans and the heartland traditionalists can be taken into account.
As people from various communities end up in different states, the gaps existing between culture, politics, and economy cannot be bridged. Brain Drain makes people more homogenous, but it results in misunderstanding and distrust among those people due to their alternative views and opinions.
The rate of Migration
It needs to be mentioned that the rate of migration across different groups is never the same.
From the very beginning of the process of Brain Drain, it always has been the individuals educated in colleges to move from one region or country to another at a higher rate than those individuals who did not receive education in colleges.
As per the recent analysis, migrants around the world make up 3.5% of the total population of the world that is around 272 million international migrants.
The main motive for their relocation is the goal of securing a job or for better career opportunities in comparison to their native states or countries. Today, most of the developing countries, especially South Asia, have converted into a source of migration of healthcare professionals to the developed countries.
As a result of this, the developing countries are suffering adverse effects from the healthcare systems. The affected countries are looking for several rewards, such as policy options, various benefits, and opportunities for their citizens to decrease the rate of Brain Drain and enhance in-migration, as well as reverse the out-migration of the healthcare professionals.
To make it happen effectively, the social, political, and economic situations of immigrants should be considered thoroughly. Besides, development and security should be offered locally at first. Above all, without compromising in the standards, the local conditions of the individuals need to be investigated and redressed.
How to Stop Brain Drain?
Some of the effective ways that can be used to control the brain drain issues are-
- Tackling underemployment
- Rural development
- Solving issues related to taxation, red-tapism, corruption
- Proper payment policy
- Placements in the country
- Better work culture, etc.
On the concluding note, it is clear that brain drain is the migration of skilled human resources for education, trade, growth, better living, etc.
All in all, the quest for better standards of living and quality of life along with higher salaries, stable sociopolitical conditions, availability of advanced technology, etc compel people to shift to a developed country from the less developed areas.
If a country wants to control or stop the brain drain, it should have to-
- Offer better job opportunities to skilled workers and professionals irrespective of caste, race, creed, or nationality
- Ensure promotion of people on merit alone
- Offer attractive salaries to highly qualified professionals as per their qualifications & experience
- Improve the universities’ quality at par with universities in Europe & America
- Ensure sufficient research facilities
- Do not have any quota system in case it is still present in your country, as it lets less intelligent and inefficient people get admissions to the professional colleges.