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Brain circulation not brain drain

Courtesy/ (from video)

NYU economist Yaw Nyarko discusses his work on the so-called African brain drain with World Vision Report. Click here to listen to the interview (12 minutes).

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  1. flabbergasted wrote:

    this is ridiculous. firstly, i dont think we can discuss brain drain as the same phenomenon across sectors– academia versus health sector versus unskilled labor. secondly, the massive amounts of healthworkers that leave africa for better pay in other countries certainly affect human, social, and economic development here. the cadre of healthworkers left behind are overworked, underpaid, and insufficient in number to organize a mass movement for better salaries! uganda released a report yesterday saying it lacks 27,000 healthcare workers. the remittances sent home by healthworkers abroad can’t take care of sick patients in hospitals…

    Posted September 29, 2010 at 8:46 am | Permalink
  2. Dan Kyba wrote:

    Listened to the interview – I liked the guy. Some comments:

    a) Language cleanup – ‘Brain Drain’ is a pejorative term favoured by those against emigration or free movement of labour from Africa.

    b) He correctly referred to the hypocrisy of the argument re labour movement. I doubt many advocates of the control of African labour movement would allow themselves to be subject to a similar restriction.

    c) The movement increases the financial and potential level of human capital in the departed country in the following ways:
    – 1 – the remittances sent back are not subject to political control and therefore do not display the same level of resource trap effects which occurs when natural resource wealth or foreign aid overwhelms an otherwise capital deficient economy.
    – 2 – The emigrants assimilate the organisational skills and institutional norms needed to sustain a healthy market economy. When their home countries begin to address the causes of their economic mismanagement and ‘brain drain’ there will always be a backwash of experienced and knowledgeable emigrants returning home to help the process along.
    – 3 – Having a diaspora creates a competitive advantage when pursuing a policy of trade rather than autarky.

    This debate is interesting since it continues to show how poor and even counter-productive is the level of understanding among some NGOs when it comes to private sector development and governance.

    When you look at the earlier post from InterAction and their PVO standards you may want to consider, in the private sector, when all other things are equal, who holds the competitive advantage: the organisation that follows the open merit principle in HR or the one that does not?

    Posted September 29, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink
  3. David wrote:

    I’m sympathetic to Prof. Nyarko’s argument with respect to economists…less so for health care workers. Unemployment does not exist in the health care sector in Ghana. It does not seem unreasonable to require at least some service in-country in return for a basically free education, given the vacancies available.

    Posted September 29, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink
  4. joe wrote:

    I’d be interested to know the relative economic contribution from the diaspora to their homeland versus their adopted country. I’d guess they do more economic good to the country where they work than where they came from.

    It seems a curious argument to suggest that Good Aid involves encouraging a small number of skilled professionals who are trained by cash-strapped governments to leave. Good for the individual, overall bad for the country, surely?

    Posted September 30, 2010 at 5:34 am | Permalink
  5. Till Bruckner wrote:

    Has anyone ever studied the effects of reverse brain drain, when educated people flock back to their original home countries because they see a fresh chance to build a life and career there, and participate in positive change?

    Georgia 2004 would be one case, but I’m sure there are other examples too. (Let’s hope Zimbabwe is the next!) I’ve read somewhere that the return by some ethnic Indians to Uganda had a huge economic impact.

    Posted September 30, 2010 at 7:19 am | Permalink
  6. Dr. Minto-Coy wrote:

    The experience of a number of countries, including Ireland (see suggests that the return of the educated and highly skilled can be of significant benefit to the home country.

    As is suggested from the comments, the issue is not clear cut and the extent to which the diaspora can contribute to the development of the home country is dependent on a host of factors including, size, capacity conditions in the home and host country, as well as the desire of the Diaspora, itself.

    Posted October 4, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

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