Title: Rethink “Brain-Drain”: China’s High-skilled Migration
Author(s): Yu Meng
Affiliation: Georgia Institute of Technology
Presented At: STiS 2008
Primary Topic Area: High-skilled Migration
Human capital has long been an important concept in economic development and innovation literature (Lucas, 1990; Oyelaran-Oyeyinka and Barclay, 2004; Romer, 1990; and Zucker et al., 1998). In many studies on developing countries, while researchers appreciated their interaction with developed countries on training and education to accumulate human capital, they also noticed that “brain drain,” defined as high-skilled migration, has been a serious problem challenging these countries (e.g. Baskaran and Muchie, 2004).
Recently, with the penetration of globalization, high-skilled migration is studies and considered in a different way. It does not only have negative, but positive, effects on the economy of the nation it occurs (Iguchi, 2002; Saxenian, 2006; Wolburg, 2001). Accordingly, policymaking regarding the high-skilled migration should be compatible with the new notion taking into consideration of its positive effects rather than be hostile to it according to the old notion.
Since China opened its door in 1980s, activities beneficial for international interaction, including those related with training and education, have been largely encouraged. As a result, various forms of international training and education are dramatically increasing, such as studying abroad, exchange student/scholar, visiting scholar, international conference, employee training, and so on.
Do those activities negatively affect the development of China? Should Chinese government continue encourage those activities or adjust them given the “brain drain” effect? Those questions have invited lots of policy debates. Being concerned with the new notion of high-skilled migration and its application to China, this paper will lay out the theoretical background and collect empirical evidence to answer three questions: 1) How much do we know about China’s “brain drain”? 2) What would be more realistic effects of high-skilled migration on China? And 3) what are policy implications on this regard?