Should a Cosmopolitan Worry about the "Brain Drain"? [Abstract]

Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 20.3 (Fall 2006)

September 22, 2006

Many developing countries are experiencing high rates of emigration of their highly skilled citizens. This essay asks if a cosmopolitan—who we take to be generally supportive of freer international migration—should worry about the adverse effects on those remaining behind in poor countries. We document the extent of skilled outflows, discuss the causes and consequences of those outflows, and offer principles to guide a cosmopolitan policy response. We argue that skilled emigration harms long-run institutional development. The right response, however, is not to shut down the one reasonably liberal element of the international migration regime but to look for ways to make international migration work better for development.

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