Brain Drain


By Chea Vicheka

“Countries having a brain drain are losing human capital to countries having brain gain,” said Chea Vicheka.

BRAIN drain refers to depletion or loss of intellectual and technical personnel (Wikipedia, 2011). It can be simply defined as the mass emigration of technically skilled people from one country to another country.  Brain-drain can have many reasons such as political instability of a nation, lack of opportunities, health risks, insecurity, personal conflicts etc. Brain drain is a phenomenon of human capital flight which might spell outflow of human capital out of a nation. Brain drain usually occurs in developing countries including Cambodia where there are a lot of outflow of knowledge to more developed nations like the US. The emigrated intellectuals take with them pools of knowledge out of their original countries and apply in their immigrated countries. From this phenomenon, developing countries such as Cambodia, Africa, the island nations of the Caribbean and formerly Soviet Union nation are having a brain drain while America or European Union are having a brain gain.

There are two aspects for the reasons of brain drain that come from countries and individuals. In terms of countries, the reasons may include lack of opportunities, political instability, economic depression, health risk in developing countries making social environment in developed countries attractive. Rich opportunities, political stability, freedom, developed economy and better living conditions are among the factors in fostering emigration to rich nation such as America and European Union (The Gemini Geek, n.d). Brain drain is also driven by individual reasons such as family influence, i.e. overseas relatives, personal preference for exploring, ambition for an improved career, etc.

Brain drain is usually regarded as an economic cost to developing countries because the emigrants usually take with them the value of their training sponsored by their government or other organizations. The original countries experience the drainage of skilled individuals who otherwise would work to support their economy and their country. On the other hand, brain-gain is merely an opposite situation to brain-drain. Countries that gain skilled workers who migrate from developing countries are usually having a brain gain. Countries like USA, Canada and UK are having brain-gain because these nations are rich and have enough work opportunities. Moreover, they provide better facilities, incentives and life styles.

Brain drain exhausts technological and knowledge resources which reduces productivity of a nation. Developing countries must address the causes of brain drain and increase efficient use of their resources including local skilled citizens for development and growth. To hold these skilled workers at their native places, it is also important to provide them with enough work opportunities, decent living facilities, and better incentives. Those skilled workers migrate to other countries because they hope to find a better working condition suitable for their expertise, where these may not be available in their home countries. To stop this, they have to be motivated to return home where their know-how knowledge is valued.

In conclusion, countries having a brain drain are losing human capital to countries having brain gain. In addition, these countries are usually poor, under-developed or developing making the brain drain inevitable. To relieve this problem, the government should not only nurture local human resource but also retain the human capital for development purposes. Developed countries should help these countries with necessary money and resources so that they can improve and upgrade social and economic status. Brain drain is an issue that developing countries must address in order to catch up with developed nations in terms of standard of living, technology and social welfare.

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