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Give Us Your Best and Your Brightest

By Devesh Kapur | Center for Global Development | September 1, 2005


As flows of skilled labor from poor to rich countries have continued to grow, the role of international migration in development has surfaced as a prominent issue. The fear of "brain drain" has been prompted by the dual forces of declining populations in rich countries and their need for new labor, along with the growing competitive pressures in knowledge-intensive sectors for skilled labor. Recently, the United Nations issued a Report of the Global Commission on International Migration, suggesting the creation of a new international architecture to grapple with the challenges posed by the forces of migration. But while immigration in the US and Europe remain divisive political issues, these questions still remain: Who benefits, and who loses, and why?

Give Us Your Best and Brightest by Devesh Kapur and John McHale evaluates both the issues of "brain drain" and "brain gain" to determine the effects that skilled migration has on sending countries. They discuss the role of the prospect channel, which the option of migration creates, to obtain higher education, as in the case of nursing education in the Philippines. The absence channel focuses on the effects on those remaining behind when much of the skilled labor leaves a country, creating a vacuum of talent and potential institution-builders. The role of diasporas is also salient in considering the effect of remittances sent back to poor countries resulting from large segments of their population living abroad. The return channel looks at how the return of wealthier, more educated, and better-connected immigrants to their country of origin can positively benefit their home communities.

Succinctly and lucidly written, this book offers an accessible report of the very complex issue of global migration. It also suggests four new policy options for rich and poor countries alike to consider, so that the benefits of international migration are more equally shared with the developing world.

Click here to download selected chapters.

Read More: Development, Migration

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