By Stella Vasileiadou,
The Brain Drain Effect is not something new: it started becoming significant in the 1990s. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that over 250,000 Greek scientists, experts, professionals were abroad in 2017, while almost 200,000 decided to leave the country after 2010. Also, studies have shown that especially between 2008 and 2013, almost 223 thousand Greek citizens made the decision to abandon their mother country for good, seeking a better life. The thing is that not only does it result in the loss of a nation’s “child prodigies”, but it means that these people could have otherwise contributed significantly to the nation’s economic and scientific achievements.
The definition of “brain drain”
“Brain drain” can be simply put as the migration of talented geniuses from their homeland to other countries in pursuit of a better job and life. Common finding is that this phenomenon mostly affects young and seriously qualified people. The main factors that influence this “new wave of migration” include high unemployment, the current economic crisis, as well as the lack of vocational rehabilitation programs. Young people often feel like their country does not “appreciate: their hard work and the effort they have put into their studies.
However, we should not take for granted that all those people who have left are a part of a homogeneous group, or that they are one-of-a-kind scientists or that they are living their life to the fullest in the countries where they now work. Plus, “brain drain” does not imply that the best have gone and the worst have remained in their country of origin.
Types of brain drain
- Geographical Brain Drain
It refers to the emigration of brilliant and high-skilled people from one geographical zone to another. For instance, such individuals decide to leave in search of better-paying jobs, while these will guarantee better living conditions, without struggling to make ends meet. What is for sure is that this type of brain drain has a negative impact on the home country’s economy and development.
2) Organizational Brain Drain
Organizational “brain drain” stands for the departure of individuals of skill, talent, and experience from one organization to another. As a result, this is extremely harmful for the mother organization. This could happen due to more competitive salaries and better working conditions in other organizations.
3) Industrial Brain Drain
This type involves the shifting of talented and hard-working individuals from one industry to another. This occurs due to prospects of better pay and work conditions in other sectors. It goes without saying that in this way, certain industries lose their skillful workers, and they gradually collapse.
The consequent mismatch between supply and demand of skilled human resources, is responsible for the decision of many to leave their country and go abroad for a better life. In addition, in the specific case of Greece, its companies do not aim for producing complex products or special services whereas expert human capital is totally required. This discrepancy causes high levels of unemployment, especially in young people who eventually settle for jobs that do not make use nor highlight their qualifications.
The Controversial Role of Education
As we already know, education is the key for the human capital improvement. But this could be actually a trap: the higher level of education the workers achieve, the higher their expectations, and therefore they are more likely to emigrate to more prosperous countries. So, it would be better if we said that a reshaping and serious evolution of the educational system should be promoted: this means that on the one hand, it must be ensured that students are equipped with the right skills during their studies and on the other hand, that the knowledge acquired is directly linked to labor market. Meanwhile, young people should be advised to engage in professions and specializations that their country’s labor market actually needs.
Nevertheless, beside its negative effects, “brain drain” could also be beneficial to some home countries and especially concerning their economic growth. The advantages of the brain drain phenomenon include international networking, the decreasing of unemployment level, the improved quality of human resources, the optimization of production capacity in the home countries, as well as the option for alternate investment resources.
- “Greece’s reverse brain drain”, POLITICO.EU, Available here.
- “Essay on Brain Drain”, Assignment Point, Available here.
- “How “brain drain” can turn into “brain circulation”, Greek News Agenda, Available here.