Brain Drain: Exploring Migration's Impact on Talent and Prosperity

The term “Brain Drain” has come into limelight with the trend of educated and skilled people and workforce moving from one country to another to achieve career gains. The talent of such people as a result becomes available to the nation to which they relocate. The biggest disadvantage of brain drain is the depletion of talent from the native nation which may badly need their skills and talent. It is the migration of country’s intellect which may have otherwise served their motherland and contributed to its prosperity.

Thus, this brain drain or ‘Human Capital Flight’ as it may be called, becomes a threat to the growth of countries which lose the human resources, rich in technical skills or knowledge. This has also increased the disparity in the economic and social prospects of the countries across the world .The rich and developed nations grow richer and prosperous while the developing or underdeveloped nations stay poorer and backward. Brain drain is a global phenomenon affecting the developing nations.

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The disadvantage is seen as an economic cost as a part of the training and the education cost which is sponsored by the government is also taken away with their emigration. Thus the country which experiences the drain of skilled resources faces the getaway of financial capital also. Brain drain isn’t a problem of this era only.

Even in medieval times, the conquerors attacked the nation for gold and other wealth and took people of talent and knowledge with them. This problem became pronounced after Second World War when progressive nations like USA, the erstwhile U.

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S.S.R. and Germany etc. began to make significant advancements in technology and scientific research attracting talent from foreign nations. Thus men of talent began migrating from less developed nations to these countries. The reasons of brain drain are many including the lack of opportunity, political instability, health risks and many more. Many students leave their native nations for scientific and technological courses which are not offered by their own country and settle out in the country of study owing to better career opportunities, lucrative remunerations, security of life and health all of which lack in their country of birth. Also they seek professional satisfaction in the country where they work and thus are ready to continue leaving their own nation. On the top of all this, the bureaucrats of the country fail to realize the potential and the worth of this intellect and thus they are unable to retain the cream of researchers and men withextra-ordinary talent. All these factors combined together trigger the process of brain drain. Brain drain for the nation from which the emigrants leave to settle into the nation that promises better work opportunities becomes brain gain for the latter.

Even countries like Europe were faced with the problem of brain drain until the introduction of green card that helped them gain more brains and compensated for the drained brains. At present, countries like India, Pakistan and Russia are the sufferers of this problem and losing their talent very rapidly. Unemployment, corrupt political systems, inappropriate and unsafe work and social life as well as poor compensation, prompts the skilled and trained people to leave their own countries and seek promising opportunities in developed nations where they get more success Under utilization of talent, inadequate professional tools, lack of growth and unsatisfactory living conditions are also key factors in the emigration of the skilled workforce from these nations. India loses around 3 percent of her skilled workforce including teachers, doctors, engineers, scientists etc. to developed nations like USA. Brain drain does more harm than is visible from an outer view. Besides depleting the natural supply of intellectual talent, it reduces the number of dynamic and innovative talent be it the academics or the booming entrepreneurs. The nations that lose the talent in turn have to depend upon foreign assistance for technical purposes. The technology slowly becomes the onus of the developed nations when they grow richer with more resources contributing to their progress.

Even the migration of medical practitioners who are highly trained to other developed nations makes the condition of health care in the native nations miserable. As a result, in case of emergencies and more complex treatments or surgeries, people from such countries have to bear expensive travel and cost of treatment and accommodation in nations that provide these facilities. As countries lose their talent, its progress slows down and also lacks the contribution of the highly skilled human force, which has left the nation. It leads to a scarcity of skilled resources which then began to charge high for their service to the nation and its countrymen. Poorer nations like Africa suffer the worst from this problem and thus its development remains hindered. The issue of brain drain is an international phenomenon and an outcome of the trend of globalization, but unlike other benefiting affects of it, brain drain has a negative
impact. The problem of brain drain can be effectively tackled. For this, countries suffering from it have to improvise their own socio-economic conditions and provide better salary scales and safe and healthy work conditions to their human capital.

Better and updated labs equipped with latest equipment can help retain more scientists and researchers leaving their country owing to lack of research opportunities. At an international level, the nations which gain these brains should promise to send equivalent talent to the nations losing their human resources. Good governance is also important as they decide the policies that govern the security and standard of living of its people. As discussed, some brain drain results from the stage of education only when individuals move to other nations offering better educational courses. If these individuals are offered better education opportunities in native countries, the emigration can be controlled at a preliminary level. Governments need to show commitment to support research while allowing them to carry on their experiments freely with much independence. To conclude there is a need to review the social, political and economic conditions in the nations suffering from phenomenon of brain drain to provide better security and work opportunities to the skilled resources in the native nation.

The Brain Drain Effect

Brain Drain is a controversial topic whether in developing or already developed countries. Leaving one’s country for better opportunities, education, or even lifestyle is not always bad. Wanting to change and evolve to the better is not either. Contrary to the popular belief that brain drain is bad, there are some hidden benefits to what people call brain drain. Brain drain helps some immigrants to learn and explore new inventions and innovations abroad so that when, at least a small percentage of people, return they give back to their country. In addition, it also helps the emigrants’ homeland countries’ GDP through their remittances. Of course there is a negative side to Brain Drain as well.

The arguments that will be mentioned throughout might go against the popular view that brain drain is a dreadful phenomenon. One of the claims might be that all of the “good brains” could migrate and leave their countries instead of staying and working for and in their country, to help it improve economically and socially better than just leaving and sending money back through remittances. The reply to that would be: what if there is a very high unemployment rate where this person can’t find a job or he can find a job but he isn’t appreciated for his skills, ideas, and innovation, then his only option would be to travel somewhere else where he has better opportunities to improve his talents. Another point would be the assumption of developing countries remaining developing nations forever; they won’t be able to use those good brains in inventing and innovating new things.

The same reply would fit for this situation too; in addition to that they might return back and benefit their country even better than they would have if they did not leave in the first place. Some people leave their country and return to give back to it what it is missing. Immigrants go to other countries to learn, explore, and understand new things. They travel to gain experience and gain knowledge, and to learn more about other cultures as well. Brains who emigrate should also want to give back their country what it is missing to help it become better¸ even though the number of the people who return might be small. Just like in the article “Turkey benefits from Brain Drain” that talks about how Turkish Germans that are moving back from Germany are starting their own companies and making big profits out of it. As well as, they are so much happier than they ever were in Germany.

The writer then emphasizes the importance of the German “Brain Drain” on the Turkish economy, and how it’s helping in nourishing Turkey’s economy on the long run. That shows, at some cases, workers are coming back home to work or start their own businesses that benefit their countries. Or even help in developing his or her country by taking what they learned abroad and applying them in their own countries, therefore; contributing in developing their home lands. This is also known as “Brain Circulation”. An article by Menlick stresses on brain drain on a national scale, stating that Miami loses many artists to New York and Los Angeles. Menlick’s solution to this problem is to circulate instead of drain.

“The overriding concept I like is “brain circulation”. It’s not brain drain, it’s not brain gain, it’s brain circulation. So what I think Miami should do is bring people in and send people out” that way a country or a city will not be just stuck with what it has or what it has lost, it will lose people and it will gain in return to mingle the knowledge all around. Overall, even if immigrants don’t return back to their countries to contribute to it, they will still have the remittances they keep sending back to their homeland.

Homeland countries also benefit from Brain drain economically through remittances sent from the immigrants to their families who are still staying in their home ground. The amount of remittances send is very big, and they are that big to the extent that some are hidden, and not counted. Economists William Easterly and Yaw Nyarko wrote a paper in 2008 that hold “remittances to Africa are likely undercounted, but on average they are equivalent to 81 percent of the foreign aid (PDF) received by an individual country”. This shows that the economic benefits of remittances are being underrated through countries.

This also shows how the remittances are helping the countries’ GDP grow; a 2011 World Bank study showed that the average annual GDP growth of low-income countries has increased by 6%. That leads to the question of what does the calculation of GDP include and how does it help raise the economy? The GDP includes consumer spending, Investor spending, government spending, and others.

The equation of the calculation of the GDP shows that when the immigrant sends money to his or her family who live in their homelands, the family spends money (which goes into consumer spending) or they could even invest their money in banks for example (which goes into investor spending), therefore; an increase in the Gross Domestic Product should be a result from expenditures on consumer and investor goods, resulting in an overall growth of the GDP one way or another. Brain drain is an idea of the world emerging an economy from new technology and communication with the help of the influence of a large international agreement. This benefits both countries anyway, one for the remittances that are being sent back to the families. And the other for having a diverse community and having good brains that help improve the many different faculties and standards throughout the country.

To sum it all up, Brain drain has positive and negative effects. The negatives are that all of the “good brains” could migrate and leave their countries instead of helping it, developing countries will be developing nations forever, and it could kill innovation and invention. On the other hand, the positives outweigh the negatives. The positive points include loyal immigrants who leave and come back with new ideas and contributions to his or her country and Economic growth in the Gross Domestic Product especially through remittances. And as a solution for Brain Drain, Brain Circulation is the answer. The point is that it’s always good to try to change yourself to the better, and if it comes to immigrating, then do it!


Updated: Dec 12, 2023
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Brain Drain: Exploring Migration's Impact on Talent and Prosperity. (2016, Apr 23). Retrieved from

Brain Drain: Exploring Migration's Impact on Talent and Prosperity essay
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