Global Patterns of Brain Drain

Each region, country, and sector exhibits different patterns of skills loss and gain, but some global patterns have been discerned in the statistics. The emigration rate among the tertiary educated has been estimated at 41% for the Caribbean region, 27% for Western Africa, 18% for Eastern Africa, and 16% for Central America (see Table 1 for figures by African countries).

Some estimates suggest that one in ten tertiary educated adults born in Africa, Asia, and Latin America resided in America, Australia, orWestern Europe in 2001, but this figure rises to between 30% and 50% for individuals trained in science and technology.

Estimates of the brain drain from Africa: emigration rates for tertiary educated, 2000

The Blame Game

Many African, Asian, and Latin American countries blame Europe and North America for the loss of their skilled personnel, claiming that skills are being 'raided' or 'poached' in increasing numbers, especially from the healthcare sector. The implicit argument is that without active government and private sector recruiting, skills out migration would be negligible. In a globalized world, this assumption is highly problematic. What is true is that Europe and North America have developed skills based immigration policies over the last two decades, which make it much easier for skilled individuals from Africa, Asia, and Latin America to emigrate there. The temptation to admit skills paid for by someone else has proved almost irresistible.