Christian Science Monitor: Reverse brain drain: Economic shifts lure migrants home
The tide of brain drain – from developing countries to industrialized nations – has turned. Human capital is returning home to Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa, while some European professionals squeezed by the recession, turn toward developing countries for advancement.
"Brain drain" – the flow of intellect and skilled labor from poor to rich countries – has been so constant in modern times that the Nigerian cabdriver who was educated as a doctor back home is just as much a fixture of New York City's landscape as a fledgling Broadway actress or Wall Street banker.
Academics and college-educated engineers from Brazil to China to Poland have long set off for the world's more developed nations for better opportunities, sometimes in their own fields, often behind steering wheels or in fast-food or restaurant kitchens.
But now that tide is turning; immigrants no longer always see developed countries as a better place to be. ...
... Emerging economies not only are faring better than most of the developed world in the current recession, they also continue to grow, drawing back their expatriates and, in some cases, even luring new high-skilled citizens of the US and Europe.
It is the "democratization of talent," says Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. "Everyone went to four or five English-speaking countries before, [and all other nations] got the third-rung talent. Today, knowledge is no longer monopolized anywhere." ...
... Benefits are not just measured in the individuals' skills or number of jobs generated but also in a host of ancillary benefits.
"When you've lived in an OECD country and you see how things work there, I would think you become less tolerant of a corruption, of things that don't work, inefficiency, people sitting on their thumbs," says Georges Lemaitre, an expert on workforce migration at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. "You want to see your own country with much more available services and with the efficiency that you are used to."
Such benefits, he adds, could become a global pattern in coming years, both from new migration and reverse migration.
In the meantime, those countries losing their allure could also lose their competitive edge. ...