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Brain gain as opposed to brain drain: emigration of highly skilled labour enhances economic growth in country of origin

30 October 2017

In countries with high levels of emigration of highly skilled labour, knowledge-intensive industries experience more rapid growth. This is one of the conclusions drawn by Marianna Papakonstantinou in her research on international human capital spillover. She studied the impact of migration on human capital in the home country. The international migration of both highly educated and moderately highly educated labour has a positive effect on economic growth, which points, somewhat surprisingly, to brain gain rather than brain drain, says Papakonstantinou.

When people leave their home countries, recipient countries gain human capital at the expense of the countries of origin. This is the traditional thinking underlying the brain drain idea. But it has become increasingly apparent that emigration actually stimulates the formation of human capital in the home country – so-called brain gain. There are several reasons for this. Migrants may return to their home countries with knowledge and experience gained in the host country, they submit remittances which are partially used for educational purposes, and migrants are often role models for those who stay behind and are inspired to pursue their own education.

Because human capital plays an essential role in economic growth, it is of great importance to understand the impact of migration. Papakonstantinou concludes in her thesis that emigration has a positive effect on the growth of knowledge-intensive industries in the home country. She will be awarded a PhD by the University of Groningen on 2 November.

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Contact: Marianna Papakonstantinou or Prof. Robert Inklaar (promotor)

Last modified:29 February 2024 10.02 a.m.
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