High Skilled Migration

The project is about high skilled migration and economic development caused by international scholarships and grants. The research questions are: What are the effects of high skilled migration? What are the driving forces behind this phenomena? How can it be quantified?

Many countries intensify their efforts to attract and hold foreign students, which causes human capital externalities (Acemǒglu et al. 2000) in the countries of origin. Does the migration of talents therefore mean a gain or a loss or of human capital investment by a country?

A significant migration of high skilled migration has economic effects on the economy, the labour market and the fiscal policy in the country of origin. It can be a severe drawback in a country’s effort to obtain human resources and fiscal revenues for economic development (Beine et al. 2008). But high skilled migration has also positive externalities in countries of origin like stimulating education, remittances, network effects from expatriates and knowledge effects from returnees. (Boeri et al. 2012). We are looking for specific trajectories of migration and how they are connected to economic development. Is development slowing down with high skilled emigration along the skill-setting curve or is high skilled emigration slowing down with development along a migration-setting curve? (De la Croix et al. 2012)

When investigating the incentive structure supporting or limiting student migration, we distinguish between the incentives to study abroad and the incentives to stay abroad after graduating. What is the final working destination? We want to detect factors that turn the decision of a temporary emigration to study abroad in a permanent one to work and live in another country.

The effects of high skilled migration on countries of origin are investigated by estimating human capital externalities considering policy in countries of origin and destination. Private and social returns to higher education are identified. Private returns include the impacts of an education level on an individual’s employment and income situation. The social returns or externalities are the impacts an individual’s education has on the society.

The standard solution from economic theory to solve the problem of negative externalities is internalizing it by regulation, pricing or property rights. To what extend are these solutions applied in the policy responses on high skilled emigration? We take a closer look at existing governmental and institutional arrangements to reduce the negative externalities of high skilled migration and the incentives to encourage the positive ones.

Are the international scholarships a mean of labour policy (brain gain) or development policy (brain circulation)? Are they implemented to attract foreign talents to the own country or educate talents capital for a foreign country? What incentives are set to make the scholars stay or return after studying abroad? What policy options might turn a brain drain into a brain circulation?


Data are driven from a tracking study of scholarship holders containing a descriptive and analytical part. Data gathering is conducted in a mixed approach using the different lenses of the qualitative and quantitative approach. In this case it is useful to integrate qualitative elements in a quantitative study. A preliminary qualitative study is conducted to gain information about the context and to focus the question of the survey. In the quantitative part qualitative studies are combined with census data and micro data.