EMNES Policy Paper 012 – Brain drain in southern Mediterranean countries: evidence, challenges and policies

February 13, 2020
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A review of the literature and the available data support the evidence that an increasing share of population outflows from the South Med region to the EU is individuals with tertiary education. In recent years, this has gone hand in hand with increasing educational attainments amongst the regional population. The latter is a predictor of both further migration and reduced concern about brain drain.

The share of highly educated individuals amongst those who stay is still increasing and, in most countries, is more than those who choose to leave. Lack of job opportunities is the main driver of migration across the population. The impact of migration on the sending countries is not necessarily negative, as remittances – both financial and cultural – are large in the region and, de facto, migration works as a safety valve for mounting pressure, led by high unemployment, especially amongst youths.

The key question is not about brain drain but about how to restore a positive dynamic between human capital creation and potential growth leading to job creation. This requires more targeted education policies but, above all, improvement in the quality of public and market institutions.

EMNES Policy Paper 012