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Daily Times

Published Date: Jul 10, 2012


The high-income nations are draining the highly-educated subjects of the low-income countries and the latter are feeling more pain by the day, a sitting was told on Monday.

“There is a substantial pain that the low-income countries suffer due to emigration of highly-educated people to high-income countries. This pain can be converted into gain if the states play a proactive role to tap the potentials of the highly-educated diaspora,” said US’s Mount Holyoke College Visiting Professor of Economics and former Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) executive director Dr Shahrukh Rafi Khan.

He was speaking at a special lecture on ‘Highly-educated Emigration from Low-income Countries: Turning Pain to Gain.’ It was organised by SDPI to commemorate its 20th anniversary celebrations. SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri moderated the proceedings.

Refuting the aid agencies’ argument of lack of capacity in the low-income countries, Dr Rafi suggested that tapping the expatriate community would be cheaper because of the element of volunteerism and aspiration to serve their country and more effective given the linguistic and cultural advantages.

He argued that the monetary returns are likely to be higher in high-income countries but the social costs of migration is far greater than the social benefits. He was of the view both push and pull factors directly affect the process of emigration. He said the most important pull factor behind the high-education migration is the wage differential.

However, the better social facilities, social and workplace freedoms, and opportunities for children also contribute massively in this process.

He said that some of the push factors in LICs hinder individuals from realising their productive potential besides social and political chaos, conflicts, or civil insecurity induced by inefficient policing and legal mechanisms play important role in encouraging the emigration trends.

Dr Rafi argued there is very high cost attached to emigration of highly skilled persons for a society. Such emigration affects country’s growth potential as loss of highly educated people reduces the economic growth rates, which has a strong relevance with prosperity.

He said the costs of subsidised higher education are borne by the home country and hence the migration represents a loss of social investment since the benefits accrue to the host country.

He further added that as people in the upper tax brackets leave the country, therefore, cause reduction in tax revenues for the source country. He termed the remittances a mixed blessing because they overvalue exchange rate and subsequently hurt the exports and result into de-industrialisation.