Intra-European migration of highly skilled workers. A comparison of the EU-15 countries on selective out- and return-migration of its citizens

Andreas Ette, Federal Institute for Population Research, Germany
Lenore Sauer, Federal Institute for Population Research, Germany

Whereas in earlier times immigration from Southern to Northern countries has been the focus of the “brain drain” debate, recent years have seen an increasing interest towards studying migration flows between industrialized countries. Now the most developed countries also fear that highly skilled nationals might leave the country resulting in economic disadvantages. Empirical data on the phenomenon as well as theoretical reasoning is still inadequate. By making innovative use of the European Union Labour Force Survey this paper contributes to the debate by focusing on the experience of the EU-15 countries. To address the “brain drain – brain gain” question, the paper estimates the educational selectivity of European out- and return-migrants of the different European member states separately and in intra-European comparison. The additional analysis of return migration provides information on whether we should be speaking about a “brain drain” or a “brain gain”.

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Presented in Session 8: The international migration of highly skilled workers