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The Dynamics of Brain Drain During World Economic Decline

The 2008-2012 Global Recession, also referred to as the Great Recession, is characterized as global economic decline that began in December of 2007 and nosedived in September of 2008. Now, it is has loomed as a major global recession caused by various systemic imbalances and sparked by the outbreak of the 2007-2012 global financial crises. As we all painfully know now, the global recession has affected the entire world economy by devastating some countries more than others.


Presently, the world economy is at its lowest ebb. Recovery has been very slow or nonexistent for some countries, thus widening the gap between the developed and developing nations.


During the world economic decline, the brain drain of developing nations is obviously accelerated. Brain drain is also known as “The Human Capital Flight”.  The process can be defined as the mass emigration of technically skilled people from one country to another country. The reasons behind the brain-drain can run the gamut of political instability of a nation, lack of opportunities, unemployment, health risks, personal conflicts, joining of friends and relatives, and the establishment of new relations.


Brain-drain is viewed as “human capital flight” because it resembles the case of capital flight in which mass migration of financial capital is involved. The government sponsors many costly programs to educate and train its youth only to see them immigrate to other countries after completing their programs.


The term brain-drain was introduced by observing the emigration of the various technicians, educators, doctors and scientists, from various developing countries (including Europe) to more developed nations like USA. Now this phenomenon of brain drain has an opposite effect for a country into which people are immigrating. In this case, the brain-drain of a nation becomes the brain-gain for the host country.


Usually, all developing countries including China, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, and all the former Soviet republics are suffering from brain drain. Developed countries like USA, UK, France, Germany, etc. are having brain gain from this type of immigration.


The Western world, dubbed as Western Paradise, has always been the beneficiaries of brain drain. The “haves” have always had something attractive to the “have-nots.” The opulence, the opportunities of the west has hijacked the brains of the youth of developing nations. For instance, many international students subsidized by their governments to obtain higher education in the west remain in their host countries after graduation. In this way, the home country becomes impotent in science and technology.


Brain drain has always been of major concern of many developing nations. Many articles and books have been written on the primarily negative effects of brain drain, but a very few nations have done something substantial to reverse the flow of skilled talent from going abroad.


Many attempts have been made by developing nations to reverse the flow of brain drain, but only a few could achieve some appreciable results. However, Egypt is one nation credited with a pioneering project to exploit the brain drain by turning it into a brain gain.


In the heart of Cairo, a top-class research facility is currently attracting talented young Egyptians who might have gone elsewhere to learn and eventually stay there. Also, this research facility is serving as a magnet to students to return to Egypt after graduating from foreign universities.


Briefly, this pioneering project is taking place at Egypt’s renowned National Research Center. This scholarly institution also houses the Nobel Project (Egypt’s National Project for Scientific Renaissance)   that provides young researchers who have left the country a chance to return to top-class facilities.


Acceptance to the National Research Center was initially based on candidates having a Ph.D. from foreign universities when populating ten newly renovated laboratories. Subsequently, installation of modern equipment at the center and the help in reducing red tape have lured back many promising “post doctorates” from Germany, Spain, the US, and the UK.


Egypt’s success, no matter how modest, should be emulated by other developing nations who are losing talented young men more than ever before during this long-lasting world economic decline.


When a young graduate is retained by his or her home country, a young mind is gained. After all, the most precious asset of a country is not its size, its mines, its fields, its rivers, its mountains, but its quality of its people. As John Green (an American author) once said: “We all matter - maybe less than a lot but always more than none.”


Z. S. Demirdjian, Ph.D.

Senior Review Editor

California State University, Long Beach, CA


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