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The brain drain: new aspects of the South/North exodus

In this article, Jean-Baptiste Meyer explains that although the 'brain drain' phenomenon is nothing new, a number of factors have recently contributed to an increasing awareness of the problem as well as attention to possible counter-measures. This is for two principal reasons: the size and nature of the phenomenon has changed, and so have its implications.

Although it can be considered in terms of the impacts of individual source and recipient countries, the skills exodus has become a global phenomenon. It is no longer an exclusively North/South phenomenon, as it now affects North/North and South/South relations. Additionally, the term 'migration' in this context is progressively being replaced by 'mobility', suggesting that permanent loss is gradually disappearing.

The author warns that this mobility should not be idealised, and that its down side is all too evident. At the same time one promising development, that of tapping into the 'diaspora', is offering a way to recover skills without requiring physical return of migrants.

 

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