What really is Brain Drain? Location of Birth, Education and Migration Dynamics of African Doctors
Proper analysis of skilled migration flows and their impact requires joint identification of where migrants were born, educated, and when they moved to the destination country. To highlight these issues and identify key patterns in career paths, the paper that will be presented, focused on doctors practicing in the United States who were born and/or trained in Africa. Çağlar Özden (World Bank) and David Philipps (Hope College) overcome data constraints by merging data from the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Community Survey (ACS) via propensity score matching techniques. Their results show that the standard assumptions on skilled migration lead to considerable overestimation of its extent and hide several economically important migration patterns. The authors find that almost half of African-born doctors were trained outside their birth country. On the flip side, around 15 percent of all doctors trained in Africa were actually born outside the continent. There is significant variation across countries in terms of age of migration levels, implying that many African doctors migrate after years of service and that their human capital is not completely lost to their birth countries. This shows that global labor and education markets for high-skilled professionals are integrated in more nuanced and thought-provoking ways than assumed in the literature.
Çaglar Özden, World Bank
Discussant: Akiko Maeda, World Bank