NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

EMIGRATION IS AN INCENTIVE FOR EDUCATION

December 13, 2005

When rich countries hire the educated class from poor countries, they deprive those countries of the necessary talent to develop their country. However, the incentive of emigrating to the United States or Europe may encourage more education by the remaining populace. This, in turn, boosts the overall level of education for the country, allowing it to develop new industries and business opportunities.

India is an excellent example, says the Economist:

  • Indian students had little reason to learn computer coding before there was a software industry to employ them, but such an industry could not take root without computer engineers to man it.
  • The dream of a job in Silicon Valley was enough to lure many of India's bright young students into coding, and that was enough to hatch an indigenous software industry where none existed before.
  • Moreover, the 1.04 million Indian-born people living in the 30 relatively rich countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a source of know-how, money and connections into foreign markets and supply chains.

Still, the Indian experience may prove to be the exception rather than the rule, says the Economist:

  • India's emigres represent just 4.3 percent of its graduate population.
  • By contrast, almost 47 percent of Ghana's highly educated sons live in the developed world, while for Guyana the figure is 89 percent.
  • This level of talented emigration can only be crippling for these countries.

Source: "Fruit that falls far from the tree," Economist, November 3, 2005.

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