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The Handbook of Global Science, Technology, and Innovation by Andrea Filippetti, Daniele Archibugi

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Chapter 19Global Trends in Brain Drain and Likely Scenario in the Coming Years

Alessio Terzi

Introduction

Over the course of the last decade, as part of a broader globalization trend, migration and international mobility at world level have been increasing. As evidenced by Arslan et al. (2014), the number of migrants (aged 15+) in OECD countries increased by 38% between 2000 and 2010, to 106 million. Of these, about 35 million have tertiary education: a number that has increased by 70% over the past decade. As evidenced in previous chapters of this manual, mobility of the highly educated1 is not to be seen necessarily as a negative evolution (see Flanagan, Chapter 17 and Florida and Mellander, Chapter 15 in this volume). Several authors (Ackers 2008; Mahroum 2000) have highlighted the positive effects that mobility of researchers has on innovation and the circulation of ideas. This has been identified by the literature as (positive) “brain circulation” (Saxenian 2005). We can speak of “brain drain,” on the other hand, when individuals with key skills and capacities leave a country and stop contributing to its development.

Even in the era of large detailed datasets, precisely measuring brain drain remains a daunting task. First, whereas it is possible to broadly measure the flows of highly educated individuals, tracking whether they return to their home countries at a later stage, bringing with them new skills and know-how, is still not possible on a large scale. Second, even ...

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