Brain Drain: Causes and Effects on Developing Countries

Brain drain is defined as the migration of skilled human resources in search of the better standard of living and quality of life, attractive salaries, world-class education, opportunities for career advancement, access to advanced technology and more stable political conditions in different places worldwide (Sunita Dodani and Ronald E LaPorte, 2005).

brain drain in developing country

This article will be narrowed down to students in developing countries migrating from their fatherland to pursue world-class education and access to advanced technology. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (QECD), the number of students enrolled outside their country of citizenship has risen dramatically over the past decades, with Asian students making up 53% of the total in 2011. Between 2000 and 2011, the number of international students has more than doubled. Today, almost 4.5 million tertiary students are enrolled outside their country of citizenship (QECD).

Although, there are definite advantages of this mass exodus but the negative effects outweigh the advantages. The source country takes the larger share of the negative effects because the larger percentage of these students doesn’t usually return to their home country due to some factors. And the reasons are because of the push and pull factors. The push factors are the unattractive and unbearable conditions in the home country while the pull factors are the attractive conditions of the developed country which the migrants admires and what to partake of it. It is the numerous benefits that attract foreign students to stay put after the completion of their academic programme in the developed countries.


Causes of brain drain in developing countries 

Push factors (What makes students from developing countries to stay put in developed countries)

  • Lack of research funding
  • Poor facilities
  • Limited career structures
  • Poor intellectual stimulation
  • Threats of violence: insecurity
  • Poor economy with an inadequate growth potential
  • De-motivating working conditions
  • High unemployment rate
  • Political instability
  • No working system in the home country


Effect of brain drain on developing countries

The intellectuals of any country are some of the most expensive resources because of their training in terms of material cost and time. And this might have a negative effect on a country if the skilled human resources should migrate to another country in search of greener pasture. Some of the effects include:

  • Loss of skilled labors
  • Loss of investment in education which leads to loss of revenue
  • Development of the country will be impaired
  • The healthcare system of developing countries is in disarray and the health of the population is suffering due to the outflow of healthcare professionals
  • Fall in the standard of education in the home country due to inadequate professionals to handle the education sector. This eventually leads to poor academic performance among students on the long run.
  • Leadership crisis in the country: One of the reasons why developing countries are ruled by ineffective leaders is because those that can provide effective leadership are no more in the country

It is important that developing countries should look at the causes and effects of brain drain so as to provide an enabling environment for her citizens to thrive. Furthermore, developing countries should provide world-class education and training opportunities, as well as opportunities for career advancement and employment so as to reduce the migratory flow.


(1) Sunita Dodani, Ronald E LaPorte 2005 : Brain drain from developing countries: how can brain drain
be converted into wisdom gain?

(2) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: Education Indicator in focus 2013.

Bolarinwa Olajire

A tutor with a demonstrated history of working in the education industry. Skilled in analytical skills. Strong education professional with a M. SC focused in condensed matter. You can follow me on Twitter by clicking on the icon below to ask questions.

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