What's the Cause of Brain Drain?

Brain drain is caused by some kind of shortfall in a country's standard of living, professional opportunities or national stability. When a different country creates more attractive living and professional options for its residents, educated and talented individuals flock there, draining the overall productivity of the country with shortfalls.

Generally, "brain drain" refers to the departure of engineers, financial professionals, doctors and scientists from a country because another country's incentive structure is more attractive. Contrary to popular belief, brain drain does not only affect developing and transitional economies.

Brain drain can harm a nation's economy because the professionals that leave usually earn large salaries and are no longer spending money in their home country. Furthermore, the nation's overall expertise is diminished, which can result lower progress and education rates.

The term "brain drain" emerged in the 1950s and 1960s when several science and technology experts left Great Britain to seek better opportunities in the United States and Canada.

A current example is the emigration of highly educated Indian professionals who move to the United States. Many countries engage in efforts to counteract brain drain and attract professionals back to their home countries. Some of those efforts include high tech entrepreneurship incentives and national salary increases in the depleted profession.