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Questions and Answers: Migration

Development and the Next Generation
  1. What does the report have to say about remittances and young migrants?
  2. Does the report address the "brain drain" from developing countries?

1. What does the report have to say about remittances and young migrants?

The report notes that developing countries received $167 billion in remittances in 2005. While existing data do not allow us to quantify precisely the share of this that comes from young migrants, the report notes that several studies have found a greater tendency to remit amongst young migrants back to their families than amongst older migrants, who may have less family still in their home country. The report also estimates that youth migrants are around a quarter of all migrants worldwide, and a greater share of the more recent migrants, who are more likely to remit. Therefore perhaps $40-50 billion of remittances may come from young migrants.

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2. Does the report address the "brain drain" from developing countries?

The report addresses some of the positive and negative aspects of highly educated young people migrating to the developed world. On the positive side, many young migrants do return after receiving training or work experience overseas, bringing skills and income earned abroad back with them. On the negative side, governments spend a lot of money on educating people who then leave and take their skills to another country. This is less of a concern in countries where tertiary education is largely private, such as the Philippines, and echoes the message of the education chapter of the report on the desirability of private contributions towards tertiary education. We should note that most young people interviewed in a special survey for the report indicated a desire to migrate temporarily, rather than permanently, suggesting that they want to return to their home countries if conditions support this.

The other main concern is the effect of the loss of doctors and nurses on a country's public health system. Most of these migrants tend to be older than the young migrants considered in this report, and so this issue is not tackled in depth here. The World Bank's recent Global Economic Prospects on Migration and Remittances examines this phenomenon in greater depth, and notes that the losses seem to be restricted to small and very poor countries. That report discusses several policies which can mitigate this problem, such as developed countries funding the training of nurses and doctors in some developing countries, moratoriums on hiring nurses from certain countries, as has been done in the UK, and efforts by developing countries to improve the working conditions for health personnel.

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