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Migration of academics in developing countries


This chapter will provide a review of the literature related to the research aim through the research questions. “The aim of literature review is to provide a clear review of the relevant literature regarding to the objectives of the research. Basically literature refers to all sources of secondary data which is related with the study. Reviewing the literature involves ‘locating, reading and evaluating reports of research as well as reports of casual observation and opinion” (Borg and Gall, 1989, p.114).Basically It is a fact that literature review is one of the most important components of any research being undertaken. The basic aim of the review is to spot or identify the current status or state of the investigation in relevant field. It also facilitates the facts and findings of others working in the same field by providing some invaluable background information and statistics.

Literature review overview

The theoretical framework will begin with definitions on migrations process and its viewpoint is predicated on several important premises that the reader is familiar with the understanding of the terms. Different viewpoints considering the description of the terms will be presented afterwards to provide a wider view and to illustrate opinions of different researchers. Different views on strategy will be explained an external and internal perspective. These perspectives introduce a contradictive view on strategy, which allows the reader to get an insight in the vast amount of existing models. Mainly “resources based view on strategy” is going to analyzed within the internal perspective. The empirical data will also partly describe on the major competencies of the study area.

The theory emigrants is often advanced the third world graduates to the first world generates a high income of foreign currency, and that this income contributes to the development of third world. This investigation the researcher put forward the theory that skilled emigrants currently contribute the higher income of foreign currency. Although the highly skilled group may earn higher wages, they do not necessarily send large remittances back to the third world, mainly because they have settled into a good life in the country to which they have migrated.

In the literature of emigration, the researcher locates “some scholars who were interested in classifying different types of return rather examining the motivation for return. Different factors such as economic opportunity, retirement, or children’s education motivate the possibility of return migration of the immigrants” (Ley and Kobayashi, 2005). This paper will also focus the emigration from different context such as age, education and also the gender basis. In this regard King and Newbold (2008) identifies “years of immigration, age and education as key determinants of return migration. Females and non- professionals are less likely, whereas immigrants with at least a bachelor’s degree and those with lower incomes are more likely to undertake return migration.” This paper will also focus different researcher literature review will be focusing the actual migration process and also the actual effects and also how the migrations process can encourages returning. The overall theoretical concept will show the impact of migrations and also analyzing the factors. In this regard by conducting a binary model on a comprehensive set of survey data Soon (2008) has identified “a number of return- intention determinants of students in New Zealand. One out of six perception-related variables the perception of race equality does not seem to contribute to one’s return intention. Another five are effective in return decision and they are perception of wage competitiveness, preferred lifestyle, network of family and friends, working environment and opportunities for application of one’s specialized knowledge. Thomas-Hope (1999) has revealed that “return migration to Jamaica is associated closely with the existence and nature of the transnational linkages established between migrants and their home country, especially at the level of the household and family.”

To prove that all the chosen theories are relevant for this topic, after presenting each one it will provide an example on how it can be applied to the research area. Thus it will make clear what this theoretical framework of reference is going to be used for.

Migration Theories

Professional out-migration from developing countries has historically been seen as harmful because it leads to, “gaps in essential services in the source country” (Mutizwa-Mangiza 1998; USAID2001; Stilwell et al. 2003), “de-motivation of remaining professionals who feel deprived of better salaries and opportunities” (Mutizwa-Mangiza 1998; USAID 2001), “loss of return to public investment in professional education and loss of future tax payments” (Desai et al. 2002; Rosenzweig 2005), and “ultimately, declines in overall economic growth rates due to the loss of high quality human capital” (Stilwell et al. 2003; Asian Development Bank 2005; Rosenzweig 2005).

“Developing country policy responses to the so called 'brain drain' were initially focused on preventing/restricting the outflow of professionals to the developed world or forcing would-be emigrants to compensate developing country governments for the public expenditure on their education” (Bundred & Levitt 2000; Stilwell et al. 2003). “These responses have direly failed to retard out-migration, and have been largely abandoned by most developing countries” (Lowell & Findlay 2001).

More recently, “the notion of a 'brain drain' has been supplanted by a more nuanced view summarized by yet another set of catch phrases 'brain gain-brain circulation,' whereby professional out-migration from the developing to the developed world can potentially positively impact homeland growth and development, even without permanent return of out-migrants to their source countries” (Hunger 2002; Bardak 2005). This new viewpoint is predicated on several important premises:

“Professional out-migration cannot effectively be retarded by negative incentives (bans, bonds, financial penalty clauses, etc.) as long as income and professional opportunities are significantly better in the developed world” (Martinez & Martineau 1998).

“Out-migration of skilled professionals may not necessarily have a negative impact on the source country especially in situations where there is a surplus of professionals, an already existing inequitable distribution of professionals and a relatively small proportion of the country's stock of professionals are out-migrating” (Stilwell et al. 2003; Bardak 2005).

“The prospect of enhanced earnings and professional opportunities through out-migration can act as a very powerful driver to increase enrolments in specific high value professional educational program, and as only a fraction of those enrolled eventually get to out-migrate, the country ends up with a substantially larger pool of professionals than it would otherwise. Moreover due to decreases in supply brought about by skilled out-migration, average wages of skilled workers who are left behind may actually go up more than they would have in the absence of out-migration” (Lowell & Findlay 2001; Asian Development Bank 2005; Bardak 2005).

“Financial remittances and investments from out-migrants can potentially have a substantial positive impact on homeland economic growth and balance of payments, and may counterbalance economic losses arising from the out-migration” (Asian Development Bank 2005; Bardak 2005).

Lastly, and most importantly, “there is the potential for significant transfer of social capital (i.e. technical and managerial skills, market knowledge) from professional diasporas communities to the homeland which can enhance economic growth and development” (Singh 2003; Asian Development Bank 2005; Bardak 2005).

Reasons for migration

Different reasons are behind the causes of migration. “There are a variety of approaches to understanding the reasons for high skilled migration. Neo-classical economic and growth theory tend to focus on the importance of scarcity, choice and market relations defining supply and demand. In this context migration is the product of the aggregate effects of choices of rational individuals seeking the most advantageous result for themselves and their families. In developed economies rational actors cluster toward higher paid, higher value jobs. This then allows foreign labour to move toward places of high labour demand where there are wage differentials between countries. The propensity for migration then is simply shaped by the potential for employment and the differential wage rates between countries” (Massey et al., 1994).

“It is quite clear that the political instability generated at developing world gave greater impetus to the emigration process” (Alam and Rahaman, 2008). Most studies

find that emigration is generally driven by both push and pull factors. “The main push factors from the home front include political instability, unemployment and uncompetitive remuneration packages; while pull factors, from the country people are emigrating to, include family reunions, higher living standards and better prospects for children. These factors hold global pattern” (Alam and Rahaman, 2008, Agrawal et al., 2008, Barro and Lee, 2001). “Push factors include a lack of life chances, lower living standards, political and social instability or repression, lack of available opportunities to fruitfully utilise skills in the home country, natural disasters and ecological deterioration. Relatively advantageous conditions in host countries act as pull factors such as higher wages, job opportunities, good working conditions and access to research funding, freedom from political instability or oppression. In these latter instances, Harris argues that skilled migration is as much a “vote of no confidence” in sender countries as it is exploitation of human capital resources by firms and governments in the developed world” (Harris, 2004).

Logan (2000) argues that this is simplistic and that in fact a range of complex “professional, institutional, cultural, economic, political and geographic” factors shape such decisions, a finding also supported by Papademetriou (1991). Dzvimbo (2003) augments this list with a sharper emphasis on “factors such as an environment conducive to professional autonomy in universities, research institutes and the workplace in general; and personality, goals, and personal history, which accounts for individual differences”.

Mitigating Factors

Education Inducement Effects: A small amount of skilled migration may have the effect of stimulating domestic education by highlighting incentives in the form of higher wage returns to education. This finding is supported by Mountford (1997) who argues that in “very specific circumstances the potential for a small amount of emigration will induce higher enrolments in education because of the domestic wage inflation effects demonstrated by Bhagwati and Hamada (1974) and because of the possibility of migration. However, Mountford’s analysis is derived from an analytical model which assumes that education supply is available. Nowhere in his analysis does he consider how the operation of his model would be effected by chronic poverty, ill-health, conflict or weak institutions affecting both the supply of education and the capacity of the majority of the population to access it. Neither does he consider the potential role of skills lost to migration in mitigating each of these factors.”

Technology Transfer: Findlay and Lowell emphasise the importance of skills and technical know-how and the potential for short-term migration to enhance these. “For when students study abroad they may return with enhanced skills, affecting a knowledge and skills transfer” (Lowell and Findlay, 2001). “Specific situations where migrants may return to their host country are where there is a rapid improvement in the quality of governance or in development in the sender country. Contemporary examples might include Chile after the fall of Pinochet, Spain after the death of Franco and Afghanistan after the deposition of the Taliban regime” (Oleson, 2003).

The second, effect is the “technology transfer - from ex-patriots abroad could also be of significant benefit to sender economies” (Lowell, 2001: 22). Lowell (2001) also notes that “there are a large and growing number of informal and autonomously organised academic networks of this nature, although there is no evaluation of their developmental impact.” However, “the extent to which such alliances are useful will depend on the capacity of sender LDCs to absorb transfers. This is also the case with regard to technology transfer from FDI” (Girma and Gorg, 2002).

Reasons of migration of academics in developing countries

By 2000 there were 20 million highly skilled immigrants living in the OECD member countries, a 63.7% increase in ten years against only 14.4% increase for unskilled immigrants (Beine et al. 2008). One of the reasons for this growth is the introduction of skill-intensive immigration system by the developed countries (Gibson and McKenzie, 2009). Attracting highly skilled people is one of the goals of immigration policies of industrialized countries. University faculty member or academic, a highly skilled professional, is included in this group of international transfer of human capital resources.

“One of the main reasons of migration of academics is limited research incentives. The advancement of knowledge through research is an essential function for higher education. It is declared in the World Conference of Higher Education, 1998 that all members of the academic community engaged in research should be provided with proper training, resources and support as research is conducted for the benefit of humanity” (Iredale,2005).

Another factor that motivates migration is lack of transparency in the education system. Lim argues that in “developed countries, promotion is based on academic merit and conducted in a timely and transparent way, while in developing countries the procedure is clumsy and political factors matter more than academic merit more often than not.” “Favouritism and patronage contribute to academic inbreeding that denies universities the benefit of intellectual cross-fertilization” (World Bank, 2000).

“Academic salaries have always been a contentious issue, especially when persuading talented graduates and postgraduates to opt for a higher education career rather than the private sector. Low starting salaries are deterring people from entering academic careers. Remuneration packages in universities in developed countries are sufficient to ensure that staff members devote their energy in the service of one institution” (Lim, 2001). “This provides a comfortable standard of living even after retirement. For instance, in the US universities, the nine-month salary package absolves academics of any responsibility to their universities over three months in the summer” (Lim, 2001).

Impact of emigration

“The impact of emigration, often referred to as “brain drain”, on developing nations’ economy is quite difficult to estimate, mainly due to data constraints” (Agrawal et al., 2008). “Economic theories suggest that emigration has both supply side and demand side effects on an economy. The supply side effects are normally reflected through the factors of production, in this case a reduction in the labour force” (Beine et al., 2001). “The magnitude by which economic growth decreases is determined by the following factors: The volume of emigration; the level of education and skills of the emigrants; the amount of money (savings/investment) emigrants take with them; and the scarcity factor is also important” (Commander et al., 2004).

Generally hypothesis is that the more educated and skilled the emigrants, the greater the impact on economic growth. The demand side effects of brain drain

affect both public and private consumption and investment spending. Brain drain places a strain on government’s ability to provide public services, in two ways;

“It reduces the revenue base through decreases in incomes and corporate taxes, as well as other forms of tax collections (Value Added Tax). This inevitably affects, amongst other things, government’s allocations for education, health and law and order” (Dumont et al., 2005).

“Emigration also reduces the quality of public services. Private investment and consumption spending also decline, as emigrants normally take all their savings/investment when they leave the country. This usually has broader implications on all sectors of the economy” (Faini, 2007).

“A number of studies on the effects of brain drain have reported mixed views” (Ahlburg, 1991). Some economists suggest that brain drain does not lead to a loss in economic welfare of the home country, mainly because there are other workers who can replace the emigrants quite easily. “The primary assumption underpinning this view is that there exists a surplus pool of labour from which replacement workers can be drawn. The contrary argument is that emigration does cause welfare losses to the home country. This is based on the view that the surplus pool of labour may not be able to successfully replace the highly skilled workers who have left, as they lack the necessary qualifications and experience” (Yang 2006). This is most likely to occur in highly skilled professions, particularly in the areas of health, education and other specialized services. “It is argued that the efficiency (productivity) of those who replace the emigrants is generally lower. This often results in a reduction in economic growth” (Saxenian, 2005).

“While the impact of emigration on economic growth, through the investment channel, can be quantified somewhat, it is quite difficult to ascertain the impact through other channels, such as the labour market” (Faini, 2007). Furthermore, these days many developing countries enjoy a high literacy rate. This enables replacement workers, particularly in the primary sectors, to reach efficiency levels equivalent to emigrant workers, in a short period of time. Of course, the argument can be made that if emigration levels had remained low, then developing nations’ economic growth would quite likely have been much higher.


The above discussion is an outline theoretical framework of the research proposal. The overall process tries to construct a brief arguments of the study according to the previous researcher comments and arguments of the same aspects of the study. The migration process and its proper causes and how this emigration system impacts the developing countries. The total theories are based on the same research area and also try to give a proper reference of the concept.

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