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Brain drain benefits Southern Mediterranean countries



           

Three policy papers published by the EMNES (Euro-Mediterranean Network for Economic Studies) examine the complex issue of legal immigration in the Mediterranean area and its paradoxical consequences. Encouraging it on one hand reduces illegal immigration, while on the other it leads to a brain drain from south to north. Version française



Brain drain benefits Southern Mediterranean countries

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Remittances from graduates working in Europe contribute to the development of education in their home countries (photo : F.Dubessy)
Remittances from graduates working in Europe contribute to the development of education in their home countries (photo : F.Dubessy)
Three policy papers published by the Euro-Mediterranean Network for Economic Studies (EMNES) examine the complex issue of legal immigration in the Mediterranean area and its paradoxical consequences. Encouraging it on one hand reduces illegal immigration, as highlighted in a report entitled “Legal Migration Pathways Across the Mediterranean: Achievements, Obstacles and the Way Forward ”, while on the other it leads to a brain drain from south to north.
 
The impact of this exodus, fuelled mainly by young graduates unable to find employment in their own countries (45% employment rate in Morocco, 35% in Jordan, compared to 72% in the EU), is not totally negative however. As the “Labour Supply, Education and Migration in South Mediterranean Countries " paper points out, instead of being unemployed at home, they can at least work in a job compatible with their level of education.

The Brain Drain in Southern Mediterranean Countries report adds that their expatriation also benefits their families through the substantial remittances that contribute to financing the education of those left behind. According to figures based on World Bank data for 2015, remittances represented the equivalent of 16% of Southern Mediterranean countries’ exports to the EU. For example, Egyptian emigrants to the EU send back $1.1bn to their home country, Algerians $1.79bn, Lebanese $1.86bn, Tunisians $2bn and Moroccans $6.14bn.

“Brain gain”, not brain drain

The brain drain boosts skills for the benefit of all. Instead of thinking in terms of a brain “drain”, we should think in terms of a brain “gain”, according to the EMNES experts.

Rym Ayadi, chairwoman of the EMEA (Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association) and director of EMNES, has proposed setting up a “joint Euro-Mediterranean regional system to better manage these flows. This would be more efficient and more productive.
 
For the authors of the "Labour Supply, Education and Migration in South Mediterranean Countries" report, continuing and encouraging legal migration should not dispense states from addressing factors such as poor levels of education, mismatches between skills and education and discouraging the choice of certain fields of studies such as social sciences, which do not correspond to the demand in the home labour markets. The “Brain Drain” report maintains that the driver for legal -or illegal- migration remains the lack of employment opportunities. This safety valve is leading around 400,000 Southern Mediterranean citizens to cross into the EU each year.
 
"We need to create jobs in the Southern Mediterranean through a long-term policy,” stresses Rym Ayadi, who is calling for an end to the “spiral of increasing population, poor levels of education, dearth of job opportunities and immigration in the North.”


Read the EMNES policy papers on the subject

Labour supply, education and migration in south mediterranean countries : policy challenges and options
Author : Cinzia Alcidi

Legal migration pathways across the mediterranean : achievments, obstacles and the way forward
Authors : Cinzia Alcidi, Nadzeya Laurentsyeva and Ahmad Wali Ahmad Yar

Brain Drain in southern mediterranean countries : evidence, challenges & policies
Authors : Mehtap Akgüç, Cinzia Alcidi and Mattia Di Salvo




Friday, July 3rd 2020



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