What is it about?
Do scientists migrate more than the general population? Do scientists from high-income countries migrate more in comparison to low- and middle-income countries? Which countries have the highest rate of scientists leaving or arriving? These are the type of questions that we have tried to answer. Migration literature has long shown that increased economic development in low- and middle-income countries initially increases emigration rates. The relationship between economic development and emigration reaches a new equilibrium after some time and then the emigration rates start to decline for high-income countries. However, there is little research to understand whether this population-level pattern also applies to smaller groups in society.
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Why is it important?
The statistical analysis reveals a contrasting pattern for economic development and emigration of researchers, in comparison to the population-level patterns. We show that for scientists, the propensity to emigrate does not immediately increase with economic development. It decreases until a high-income turning point is reached and increases after that point. This implies that increasing economic development does not necessarily lead to an academic brain drain in low- and middle-income countries. Our findings contribute to and call for further research on the relationship between economic development and emigration for different groups in society, in order to shed light on the multi-layered nature of migration processes.
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This page is a summary of: Global patterns of migration of scholars with economic development, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2217937120.
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Migration of Academics: Economic Development Does Not Necessarily Lead to Brain Drain
A team of researchers from the Laboratory of Digital and Computational Demography at the MPIDR produced a database that contains the number of academics per country, and the migration flows and rates from 1996 to 2021. They also analyzed the relationship between emigration and economic development per country. Their findings indicate that the patterns for the migration of academics may be widely different from the population-level ones, not necessarily leading to brain-drain.
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