Together under traditional human capital paradigm, the movement of highly trained or highly skilled professionals is considered a zero-sum game as host countries attract an inflow of human capital from home countries , increasing the competitiveness of developed countries generally referred to as “brain gain” at the cost of home countries called brain drain. Brain drain affects the regions concerned socioeconomically. Flight of human capital, more widely known as brain drain, is a challenge that many parts of Europe face. It is characterized by the emigration to other countries of highly skilled factory workers
The phenomenon of brain drain is particularly noticed in EU countries such as Romania, Poland, Italy and Portugal, while other countries such as Sweden, Ireland, Estonia and Denmark notice the opposite effect, namely brain gain. The principal effect is brain waste. This happens when highly skilled workers migrate to a region with insufficient or one-sided labour / skill demand information and end up unemployed or working in a job that does not need their high skills. However, a burgeoning approach claims that brain drain is actually creating an opportunity for brain circulation and brain linkage in a global market economy.
First, the movement of highly skilled professionals from developing countries promotes opportunities to build transnational social capital that links members from various countries and leads to the transfer of expertise from developed countries (“expertise remittances”). Furthermore, it helps create ties with the development centre and facilitates convergence with benefits such as increased exports, capital flows, and transfer of technology into the global value chains. With these kind of benefits, economic and social ties can create a win-win, positive-sum situation for both home and host countries among trained professionals.
Fears associated with Brain Drain:
The development community has stepped up its emphasis on higher education over the last two decades, realizing that it can improve a country’s capacity to compete in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy and stimulate economic growth. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries’ official development assistance towards higher education has more than doubled, from $1.7 billion in 2002 to $3.9 billion in 2016.The added value to economies expected from higher education includes advances in technology, innovation research and innovation, enhanced entrepreneurial spirit, job growth, and greater productivity among others. However, specialists and decision makers are concerned that investing in higher education in less developed countries may lead to a “brain drain” where highly educated students and professionals leave their homelands and never return home.
Kauffman’s 2016 report on international science, technology, engineering, and math students in the US showed that 48 percent of a representative sample of 2,322 foreign doctoral students surveyed preferred to stay in the US after graduating from college while only 12 percent intended to leave and 40 percent were indecisive. Because students usually move to study from developing countries to developed ones, brain drain is more troublesome for developing countries. The negative effect of brain drain could be further exacerbated given the increased flows of talent across the world and the growing incorporation of less developed countries into global value chains.
Brain Drain Scenario in India:
India has witnessed a brain drain over the past several decades, as there has been a substantial growth in the number of students studying internationally, particularly in the USA. In 2015–2016, after the People’s Republic of China, India was the second-largest provider of overseas students to the US. More than one million professionals born in India started working in the US, mostly in information technology, management, business and finance. By the late 1990s, Indians made up 28 percent of the software and engineering talent of Silicon Valley and were originators of iconic firms such as Sun Microsystems, Cirrus Logic, and Hotmail.
As the Indian economy began to expand, policy initiatives such as the development of India’s Software and Technology Parks (e.g., in Bangalore) and waves of economic liberalization helped foster brain migration. Many studies have documented Indian returnees’ significant role in building the IT industry that has started since the 1990s. Many from the US have returned to India to start IT research and innovation laboratories, oversee U.S. investment and outsourcing contracts, and recruit and monitor Indian professionals to U.S. efficiency and standards. Many American-educated Indian engineers with Silicon Valley companies even moved part of their operations to Bangalore or started software services businesses in Bangalore.
Certainly developed nations are at risk of brain loss as their skills go abroad. Yet developing countries have been found not to be afraid to lose their talent. Keeping talent back from studying or working abroad may lead to developing nations isolating themselves from the international economy. More developed countries frequently lack not only human resources but links to the centre of global economic activity as well. The crucial question for developing countries is how to translate a potential brain drain into brain circulation and brain connection.
It can be achieved by developing programs of temporarily or permanently return, along with financial and other opportunities, to make the journey home enticing and worthwhile. Another choice is through diaspora engagement policies, particularly in a global context where skills mobility is growing.