日期:2011-05-30 11:15


Economics focus经济聚焦

Drain or gain? 人才外流,是得还是失?

Poor countries can end up benefiting when their brightest citizens emigrate 穷国最终会从人才外流中获益

WHEN people in rich countries worry about migration, they tend to think of low-paid incomers who compete for jobs as construction workers, dishwashers or farmhands. When people in developing countries worry about migration, they are usually concerned at the prospect of their best and brightest decamping to Silicon Valley or to hospitals and universities in the developed world. These are the kind of workers that countries like Britain, Canada and Australia try to attract by using immigration rules that privilege college graduates.


Lots of studies have found that well-educated people from developing countries are particularly likely to emigrate. By some estimates, two-thirds of highly educated Cape Verdeans live outside the country. A big survey of Indian households carried out in 2004 asked about family members who had moved abroad. It found that nearly 40% of emigrants had more than a high-school education, compared with around 3.3% of all Indians over the age of 25. This “brain drain” has long bothered policymakers in poor countries. They fear that it hurts their economies, depriving them of much-needed skilled workers who could have taught at their universities, worked in their hospitals and come up with clever new products for their factories to make.

很多研究发现,发展中国家受过良好教育的人们尤其可能移民。据估计,三分之二受过良好教育的Cape Verdeans都居住在国外。2004年对印度家庭展开了一次大范围调查,询问了他们移居国外的家庭成员情况。调查发现,近40%的移民接受过高等教育,而所有25岁以上的印度人中,这一比例仅为3.3%。这种“人才外流”的现象长期困扰着穷国的政策制定者们。他们担心这会有损经济发展,使得他们丧失亟需的有技能的人才,他们本可在大学里教书,在医院里工作,或是研发出可供生产的新产品。

Many now take issue with this view (see article). Several economists reckon that the brain-drain hypothesis fails to account for the effects of remittances, for the beneficial effects of returning migrants, and for the possibility that being able to migrate to greener pastures induces people to get more education. Some argue that once these factors are taken into account, an exodus of highly skilled people could turn out to be a net benefit to the countries they leave. Recent studies of migration from countries as far apart as Ghana, Fiji, India and Romania have found support for this “brain gain” idea.


The most obvious way in which migrants repay their homelands is through remittances. Workers from developing countries remitted a total of $325 billion in 2010, according to the World Bank. In Lebanon, Lesotho, Nepal, Tajikistan and a few other places, remittances are more than 20% of GDP. A skilled migrant may earn several multiples of what his income would have been had he stayed at home. A study of Romanian migrants to America found that the average emigrant earned almost $12,000 a year more in America than he would have done in his native land, a huge premium for someone from a country where income per person is around $7,500 (at market exchange rates).


It is true that many skilled migrants have been educated and trained partly at the expense of their (often cash-strapped) governments. Some argue that poor countries should therefore rethink how much they spend on higher education. Indians, for example, often debate whether their government should continue to subsidise the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), its elite engineering schools, when large numbers of IIT graduates end up in Silicon Valley or on Wall Street. But a new study of remittances sent home by Ghanaian migrants suggests that on average they transfer enough over their working lives to cover the amount spent on educating them several times over. The study finds that once remittances are taken into account, the cost of education would have to be 5.6 times the official figure to make it a losing proposition for Ghana.


There are more subtle ways in which the departure of some skilled people may aid poorer countries. Some emigrants would have been jobless had they stayed. Studies have found that unemployment rates among young people with college degrees in countries like Morocco and Tunisia are several multiples of those among the poorly educated, perhaps because graduates are more demanding. Migration may lead to a more productive pairing of people’s skills and jobs. Some of the benefits of this improved match then flow back to the migrant’s home country, most directly via remittances.


The possibility of emigration may even have beneficial effects on those who choose to stay, by giving people in poor countries an incentive to invest in education. A study of Cape Verdeans finds that an increase of ten percentage points in young people’s perceived probability of emigrating raises the probability of their completing secondary school by around eight points. Another study looks at Fiji. A series of coups beginning in 1987 was seen by Fijians of Indian origin as permanently harming their prospects in the country by limiting their share of government jobs and political power. This set off a wave of emigration. Yet young Indians in Fiji became more likely to go to university even as the outlook at home dimmed, in part because Australia, Canada and New Zealand, three of the top destinations for Fijians, put more emphasis on attracting skilled migrants. Since some of those who got more education ended up staying, the skill levels of the resident Fijian population soared.

移民他国的可能性还会对那些选择留下的人起到积极影响,因为这会鼓励穷国的人们增加教育投入。Cape Verdeans的一项研究显示,年轻人移民的可能性每上升十个百分点,他们完成中学教育的可能性就上升了约八个百分点。另一项研究是关于斐济的。印度裔斐济人认为1987年开始的一系列政变,会通过限制他们对政府工作的参与度和政治权力,从而永远损害他们在斐济的前途。这掀起了移民潮。然而,尽管祖国的前景黯淡,留在斐济的年轻印度人更有可能上大学,一部分由于三大斐济人最热衷的移民国——澳大利亚,加拿大和新西兰,更加重视吸引有技能的移民。由于有些受过更多教育的人最终留在了斐济,斐济居民的技能水平大幅提升。

Passport to riches

Migrants can also affect their home country directly. In a recent book about the Indian diaspora, Devesh Kapur of the University of Pennsylvania argues that Indians in Silicon Valley helped shape the regulatory structure for India’s home-grown venture-capital industry. He also argues that these people helped Indian software companies break into the American market by vouching for their quality. Finally, migrants may return home, often with skills that would have been hard to pick up had they never gone abroad. The study of Romanian migrants found that returnees earned an average of 12-14% more than similar people who had stayed at home. Letting educated people go where they want looks like the brainy option.

移民还可以给他们的祖国起到直接的作用。在最近一本有关印度移民的书中,宾夕法尼亚大学的Devesh Kapur称,在硅谷的印度人帮助印度的本土风险投资产业建立了管理架构。他还说,这些移民为印度的软件公司进行质量担保,帮助他们打入了美国市场。最终,移民们可能回到祖国,那时通常拥有了他们在本国很难学到的技能。有关罗马尼亚移民的研究发现,归国的移民收入比国内同行平均高出12-14%。因此,让受过很好教育的人们移民到他们想去的国家,似乎是一个明智之选。

  • concernedadj. 担忧的,关心的
  • surveyv. 调查,检查,测量,勘定,纵览,环视 n. 调查,纵
  • competevi. 竞争,对抗,比赛
  • obviousadj. 明显的,显然的
  • beneficialadj. 有益的,有利的
  • drainn. 下水道,排水沟,消耗 v. 耗尽,排出,排干,喝光
  • demandingadj. 要求多的,吃力的
  • emphasisn. 强调,重点
  • hypothesisn. 假设,猜测,前提
  • unemploymentn. 失业,失业人数