Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Advocating Brain Drain

I'm still looking to carve out some time to finish a juicy blog post about talent migration and Oregon that I tried to write while very sick last Sunday. Perhaps next Monday I'll post it. Meanwhile, my wire is hopping with lots of activity. You can find here a quick summary of the debate about whether or not brain drain is bad. One of the linked research papers (warning - big .pdf file) starts out:

Fear of the brain drain seems to dominate many discussions of foreign aid and national policy in developing countries. Should aid donors and government budgets subsidize formation of skills, when skilled workers might then leave for rich countries? Could poor countries possibly obtain a positive return from brain drain? We argue that the answer could be yes. This is contrary to most of the perceived wisdom and definitely contrary to remarks and comments in the media.

I'm breathless typing that. The policy discussion needs to be a lot more open than it currently is. That's also true for domestic brain drain concerns. The case for retention is a given. Uncontested. Wrong.

In discussing advocacy for brain drain, I'm not rehashing my critiques of the overstatement or even erroneous claims about talent out-migration. (For example, see Michigan) I tend to take a softer approach, searching for benefits from the inevitable. More aggressive is the active promotion of relocation. I think it could work. It is definitely better than all snake oil claims of brain drain plugs being peddled across the country.

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