“Brain drain” or “brain gain”?

Hemming, Karen/Tillmann, Frank
“Brain drain” or “brain gain”? A macro-typology on youth mobility for EU/EFTA countries focusing on the creation/exploitation of human capital.
European Sociological Association Athen "Konferenz." 30.08.2017
Youth mobility is seen as a driving force for Europe. However, only some countries benefit from long-term incoming mobility leading to a higher economic value creation whereas others lose human capital, especially when highly qualified youth move abroad – the so called “brain drain”. Additionally, national economies profit from returning young people who gained competences abroad. The often used centre-periphery-model (Wallerstein) does not cover the full complexity of the phenomenon. Thus, we will present a country typology focusing on the creation/exploitation of human capital (Becker). The study is based on descriptive analyses of secondary mobility macro-indicators (2004-2013). Due to lacking youth mobility macro-indicators for Europe, individual datasets from the EU-Labour-Force-Survey (access via EUROSTAT) were aggregated per year/country. To represent the ambivalent meaning of youth mobility, the typology is based on two patterns: A) mobility episodes deploying/exploiting human capital (e.g. long-term-incoming-mobility), B) mobility episodes creating human capital (e.g. short-term-incoming-mobility). Given that each pattern can have a high/low-value (average for observed period), a combination of both results in a four-panel-table reflecting four mobility types: mobility-promoters (low AB), mobility-fallers (low A, high B), mobility-beneficiaries (high A, low B), and mobility-utilisers (high AB). All EU/EFTA countries were allocated to one of the panels. The typology will be presented and discussed emphasising policy recommendations. Our research is part of the EU-project “MOVE” which has received funding from the EU-Horizon 2020 programme under grant agreement No.649263.

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