The Economist has an interesting article raising the question: Might poor countries gain when their best and brightest leave? I might add a slightly different question: is the world better off if the best and brightest leave poor countries.
I had thought about this earlier in my Brain Drain Myth post, but this article has a slightly different way of looking at it.
The prospect of securing a visa to America or Australia should tempt more people in poor countries to invest in education. Mr Stark calls this a “brain gain”. If the temptation is strong enough, and the chances of landing a visa low enough, the poor country could even come out ahead: it might gain more qualified (if disappointed) doctors and engineers than it loses.Via The Economist
A person's productivity depends on the skills of those around him, as well as his own. Because of these spillovers, an individual's education is worth more to the economy as a whole than it is to himself, and he will underinvest in it as a result. Mr Stark sees limited emigration as one way to fix this market failure.
According to the most exhaustive study† of the brain drain, released last month by the World Bank, there were 1.04m Indian-born people, educated past secondary school, living in the 30 relatively rich countries of the OECD in 2000. Its million-strong brain drain represents just 4.3% of its vast graduate population, according to the Bank. By contrast, almost 47% of Ghana's highly educated native sons live in the OECD; for Guyana, the figure is 89%.