Mass migration: Who beneﬁts and why? When people in rich countries worry a…
Mass migration: Who beneﬁts and why?
When people in rich countries worry about migration, they tend to think of low-paid incomers who compete for jobs as construction workers, dishwashers or farmhands. When people in developing countries worry about migration, they are usually concerned at the prospect of their best and brightest decamping to Silicon Valley or to hospitals and universities in the developed world. These are the kind of workers that countries like Britain, Canada and Australia try to attract by using immigration rules that privilege college graduates.
Highly skilled workers in developing countries leave their homeland to work in one of the rich nations. Brain drain is perhaps best known in relation to healthcare professionals, but it also applies to many other groups, including computer software experts and a range of engineering specialists.
The numbers are large. Some 214 million people are international migrants, living in a different country from the one in which they were born. They are a very diverse group, with a very wide range of skill levels. There are plenty with high level skills who end up working for at least part of their careers outside their home country.
Some take work they are overqualiﬁed for, because it still pays better than what is available at home. But others do use their skills. Highly skilled migrants are a minority, but an important one. Many of those highly qualiﬁed migrants are from other developed countries. But there are also many who are not.
Lots of studies have found that well educated people from developing countries are particularly likely to emigrate. By some estimates, two-thirds of highly educated Cape Verdeans live outside the country. A big survey of Indian households carried out in 200 4 asked about family members who had moved abroad. It found that nearly 40% of emigrants had more than a high-school education, compared with around 3.3% of all Indians over the age of 25.
On the face of it, that looks like a bad thing for the developing nation they have come from, especially if it has paid for the skilled emigrants’ education. That nation loses skills that could have instead contributed to developing the local economy or health services and it appears that the investment in educating them has been wasted.
Often, what takes a migrant abroad is the availability of training. At times, they have to move to acquire skills in the ﬁrst place, and some stay put once they have completed their training. There is a more positive view of this type of migration. Rather than brain drain, some prefer to call it the brain gain.
Recent studies of migration from countries as far apart as Ghana, Fĳi, India and Romania have found support for this ‘brain gain’ idea. The most obvious way in which migrants repay their homelands is through remittances. A skilled migrant may earn several multiples of what his income would have been had he stayed at home. A study of Romanian migrants to America found that the average emigrant earned almost $12,000 a year more in America than he would have done in his native land, a huge premium for someone from a country where income per person is around $7,500. Already this fast growing source of funds is far larger than official development aid, according to the World Bank. Remittances are important tools that help to reduce poverty, aid families who want to invest in education, or provide funds for small businesses. And of course, some of those skilled workers do ultimately return home. Take the many Indian computing experts who went to work in California’s Silicon Valley. Initially, this drained India’s resource of computing experts. But now, the country has its own thriving computer services industry and even a city, Bangalore, that has earned the nickname, the ‘Silicon Valley of India’.
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Which of the following is NOT TRUE about international migrants?
- This group of people is not uniform.
- The number of these people is great.
- Their skill levels are different.
- This group consists of people of the same age.
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