International Educator - March/April 2013 - 4
citizens, is one
of the most
in the world
By Stuart Anderson
Competing for Citizens
VER THE YEARS, some have expressed concern that openness toward educated
foreign nationals results in a “brain drain” from developing countries. Such concern has led
some to believe it would be more moral to restrict the freedom of such foreign nationals to
emigrate to the United States and other Western countries. But are such restrictions moral
and would they actually make developing countries better off?
Under some past traditional thinking about “brain
drain,” the theory goes that a country is “drained” of
talent when engineers, doctors, and others become
educated and work in other nations. However,
such thinking ignores several realities, the
most important of which is that competition, including for citizens, is one of the
most positive forces in the world today.
To understand the shortcomings of
the traditional “brain drain” argument, it
would be helpful to imagine an economy
where there are just two companies. In Company A, people are born and raised to work
in only one company—the same company
their parents worked—and have no choice
of working elsewhere. In other words, no
matter how poor the wages, working
conditions, or opportunity for advancement, the young worker has no choice
but to work in Company A.
In contrast, Company B can only retain employees that choose to work there.
And workers will only stay in that company if they receive desirable wages, good
working conditions, and the opportunity
to improve their lot in the coming years.
Company A has far more control over
the lives of workers than Company B, so
in theory, some might think that power
would make Company A more efficient.
Imagine an Economy
with Two Companies