Where Does Talent Migrate To?

“We are a nation in which six of our scientists and researchers have just won the Nobel Prize, and all of them are immigrants,” former US President Barack Obama said recently after the announcement of the winners of this award.

This generated a lot of interest on the internet, and how could it not be?

The news could not come at a better time. It’s not just about immigrants to the US who have been Nobel Prize winners. The country has also been designated as one of the four countries where the world’s highly skilled immigrants increasingly live, according to a new World Bank document. The other three countries are the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

The research, titled Global Talent Flows, revealed that some 28 million highly skilled immigrants lived in OECD countries (members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) in 2010, an increase of around 130% since 1990. Only four OECD countries are the main destination for approximately 70% of the 28 million migrants.

According to the study, the United States alone historically has received about half of all highly-skilled migrants heading to OECD countries and one-third of highly-skilled migrants worldwide. In 2010, the United States hosted 11.4 million skilled migrants, 41% of the OECD total.

The researchers explained that among the forces driving the exceptional increase in the number of highly skilled migrants to OECD countries are the increased efforts to attract talent by authorities investing in human capital, the positive side effects generated by accumulation of skills, decreases in costs in transportation and communications, and increased interest of young people to receive education abroad.

These factors also indicate that “immigration of highly skilled workers is often controversial,” the researchers argued. They added that the loss of highly-skilled workers raises concerns in the countries of origin, but the positive aspect of this is that these migrants “can create much-needed links with global sources of knowledge, capital and assets, and some of them will probably return. to their countries with a higher social and educational level ”.

The study revealed that many countries have limited capacities in terms of education and fiscal resources to train workers or to replace those who have emigrated. In addition, the document added that in 2010 countries with high rates of emigration of highly skilled workers to destinations in the OECD used to be small low-income countries and island states.

“The reasons people leave are related to their living situation,” said World Bank economist Caglar Ozden, one of the study’s authors. “If the country improves and develops, and improves in general the life situation of people with more studies, they will not leave.”

“Let’s not push them,” Ozden warned, adding that governments can do many things to help talents return to their countries. Dual citizenship, he said, is an example of “bonding” with these talents to incentivize them to stay.

The role of women

The research noted the “remarkable and unprecedented” role of women in this wave of highly skilled migration: the number of highly skilled immigrant women increased by 152% in OECD countries between 1990 and 2010, from 5, 7 to 14.4 million. In 2010, the migration of highly educated women exceeded the migration of their male counterparts.

According to the research, Africa and Asia saw the highest growth in emigration of highly skilled women, suggesting that gender inequalities and challenges in the labor market in those regions could be becoming the push factors.

“The loss of highly educated women is a problem because it is mothers who have the greatest impact on their children,” Ozden warned. “There would be long-term losses since mothers with education translate into children with education.”

Towards the future

The research maintains that the competition for qualified people will continue to be strong in the world, and that it will probably remain uneven due to the volume of migration to the four Anglo-Saxon countries and the asymmetry in the concentration of the main universities, high-tech companies and research centers.

The study concluded that skilled migration will continue in the future. But while the general patterns will remain similar, different forms of highly skilled migration are likely to emerge and evolve.