The term “brain drain” appears to have gained wide usage in the late 1960s when growth in the migration of skilled personnel from developing to developed countries accelerated. The developed countries, by attracting scarce skilled labor, were widely held to be pursuing policies that were costly to developing countries, both in the short and longer run. The costs were not only in terms of output and employment, but also depending on the way in which education was financed through additional fiscal costs associated with public subsidies to education.  Brain drain or human capital flight is a large emigration of individuals with technical skills or knowledge, normally due to conflict, lack of opportunity, political instability, or health risks. A brain drain is usually regarded as an economic cost, since emigrants usually take with them the fraction of value of their training sponsored by the government. It is a parallel of capital flight which refers to the same movement of financial capital. Brain drain can be stopped by providing individuals who have expertise with career opportunities and giving them opportunities to prove their capabilities.


DP-Karki- (Freelance Writer)

The developed nations concerned saves her pounds and dollars on professional education and training and in the process obtains the services of trained doctors/ engineers who/earn very much more than their native counter parts and have more comfortable styles of living. The main crux of the matter is that emigrants as they enter developed countries are often in the most productive phase of his professional life and by the time they returns back, if they do, they are often spent force with wrong ideas not suited even for their native underdeveloped countries. There is thus a loss of human capital in excess of the normal contractual process of migration. There have been several efforts to define the concept of brain drain, mainly by international organizations. UNESCO report 1969 defined,”The brain drain is as an abnormal form of scientific exchange between countries, characterized by a one- way flow in favour of the most highly developed countries”.

Classification of Brain Migration

To know about the brain drain we have to know firstly about the classification of barin migration of the nation. In our country there are four types of brain migration which are presented as follows:

  1.  Brain over flow;
  2.  Brain export;
  3.  Brain exchange; and
  4.  Brain drain


  1.  Brain over flow:

Due to the over production or low rate of utilization of brain, some of the brains may remain wholly unabsorbed/ surplus because of effective demand/excess supply at home, such brain spill over and get absorbed in a foreign market. Brain migration of this type is called brain overflow. In many less developed countries like Nepal, unplanned and comparatively cheap education added up with unemployment problems has produced a lot of unemployed skilled labour. In Nepal, 63% of the students in higher education qualify in teaching profession where the counter needs maximum of 40%. In fact, educated unemployment problem which is the genesis of the brain overflow is to be witnessed in many less developed countries.

The surplus unutilized brain power may arise due to (i) over production, (ii) low employment generation (iii) non-availability of suitable job where brain may be optimally utilized (iv) existing brain power lacking in experience/competence for the available jobs requiring a fairly high standard of efficiency, excellence and training. Surplus brain power may be interpreted both in absolute and relative senses. In quantitative term, there may be over production of brain, and qualitatively the jobs may be too good for the brains or the brains may be too good for the jobs, leading to non-utilization of brain power in ;a given economy. Surplus brain power has zero opportunity cost. The migration of this surplus brain constitutes an overflow and is not at all harmful; rather it is considered helpful for the solution of general unemployment problem.

(b) Brain export:

Brain migration may take the form of brain export by the sending country. Nepal receives remittances continuously over a number of years by the exporting the brain. The payment is increasing over a number of years in the form of remittance of tax. A consolidated price for the export of the commodity brain power may also be realized from the importing country. But the computational method that can be applied to price fixation of brain has obvious limitation. Market price of brain power does not very often reflect its public cost. In the case of brain export, the exchange price must be equal to the public and private cost of brain. Since the outgoing human capital from our mostly received only the private cost, and not the social cost, such as an outflow cannot be considered to constitute brain export.

However it cannot be denied that it is very difficult to calculate the social cost; and shadow price keeps on changing along with the time horizon. If the rate of return is sufficient to cover the domestic opportunity cost of the transferred brain, it may be looked upon as a case of brain export. For the purpose of export, a country will do best to produce that brain power in whose production it has the comparative advantage.

(c) Brain Exchange

Brain migration may be in form of exchange of scholars, researchers and students between less developed countries and developed countries between less developed countries themselves for the purpose of mutual benefits in terms of knowledge, expertise and training. Such type of brain migration can more appropriately be called brain exchange. Brain exchange is temporary phenomenon where brain loss is compensated by corresponding brain gain. In Nepal brain exchange is not on practice but it is unknowingly happens. Some American or the expert of different countries were came in Nepal for different purpose like Ingo’s work and also for the various technological workshop or for the other works  and Most of the Nepalese were also went to USA and other different countries.

One initial and efficient way to limit the brain drain, would be to seek its conversion to “brain exchange”. This would require the intensification of the scientific cooperation with universities, laboratories and research institutions.

(d) Brain Drain:

            “Brain drain” has emerged as a significant policy challenge for developing countries like Nepal. Also known as “human capital flight,” brain drain describes the emigration of educated and highly skilled workers. The lure of wealth and opportunity elsewhere leaves labour-exporting economies in a self-reinforcing bind: How to develop when the best and brightest routinely set out in search of greener pastures? “Every day, in countries all over the world, people leave their home countries in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Emigration has a profound effect on the countries migrants leave, those through which they transit, and those to which they move,” said then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of International Migrants Day in 2003. While undoubtedly profound, it is yet unclear whether brain drain’s net effects are positive or negative. But on the context of Nepal, it has a negative effect are more than the positive effects. The positive effect is the incoming the remittances but the negative effects are the social and cultural disorder, the loss of energetic skilled manpower etc.

Causes of Brain Drain:

On the context of Nepal there is a large number of flows of intellectual migration to the developed and other golf countries. Highly qualified professionals are a rare source of capital for our country, and suffer major losses when these people decide to leave this phenomenon tends to become a focus of anxiety even today. By losing these professionals, brings adverse effects on economic growth, education, income distribution, political stability and overall development of the nation. There are so many causes of brain drain, like the lack of life chances, low living standards, political and social instability or repression a lack of opportunities to utilise skills, improper distribution of resources, economic divide natural disasters and environmental or ecological deterioration. For instance, on the period of 1st world war and the 2nd world war time large number of Nepalese (nearly two laths) enthusiastic youth armed force went to Britain to fight on behalf of the Britain. (wonta, The Social history of Radio Nepal; 2060).  But here presented the root causes of the brain drain of our country are as below:

 Political Problem:

When the best of professional manpower leave their home country and settle in a more developed one, it is a political phenomenon, but it only rarely occurs that the motives are exclusively political. It involves peculiar contradiction; it simultaneously indicates the lack of production and over production of professional manpower on the drained country. In this sense, brain drain is a symptomatic phenomenon, but at the same time it is expressive of a fundamental difficulty. To some extent it has an objective basis, as the attraction of a more developed country compared with those of the less developed ones has always existed in the course of history The net effect of this is that the development of science and technology has been accelerated in the developed countries and has been slowed down in the drained countries. By the long period of political instability of our nation also loses the large number of skilled manpower and they emigrate to the developed country search of better opportunity to make a better lifestyle.

Economic Problem

The economic aspect of brain drain cannot be divorced from the political aspect. First of all, it should be emphasized that it is in contradiction with the great international economic and political objective, namely the narrowing of the gap between the developed and the under developed countries. It expresses at the same time the complexity and the inter-dependence of different societies; it derives from disproportionate economic, technological and scientific development of the developed and the developing countries, entailing contradiction in the training of professional manpower and ability to satisfy the several demands for this group.  It occurs through a complicated interplay of direct and indirect economic `push’ and `pull’ factors. It is stimulated by the lack of an educational system as well as the absence of a manpower policy in Nepal, these deficiencies normally hindering the really efficient use of those qualified as well as those having talent. As against this, there are higher living standards and better research and working opportunities of the more developed country, which provides thousands of possibilities for developing human potential. In addition to these objective economic factors brain drain is also stimulated by the actually realized intention of the developed countries to acquire intellectual capital free, and quick as possible.

Psycho-social problem

The main flow of brain drain is as a change of domicile starts from Nepal towards the developed one, due to social, cultural and psychological factors due to references for living in certain countries. The major geographical direction of brain drain is from the South to the North, i.e. from Latin America to the United States, from Africa to Europe and to the U. S. and from the East to the West, i.e. from the Asian countries to Europe, and from Europe to the united States and also from Asian countries to the middle East North African (MENA) Nations. It is a fact that human capital as strategic resource is flowing out of economies where it can make the greatest contribution to human welfare, into economies already well developed and having large number of trained, capable, scientific and administrative personnel.

Positive aspects of the Brain Drain:

Many developing countries get most of their income. Developed countries also are benefited by getting cheaper skills and thus bringing down the operational cost and providing efficient facilities and service to poor. The individuals are benefitted by getting three times more salary than his/her own country and thus he/she can keep his/her family and relatives happy. It is a human tendency to go to the place where he/she is getting better pay and perks. There should be an equal opportunity for earnings. It is no doubt that the loss of skilled professionals and academics in particular, may be an important barrier to development, there are a number of factors associated with migration generally, and in some cases with skilled migration specifically, which may offset any negative impacts. These include:

  • Education inducement effects

The idea that the example of migrants and the higher pay or other benefits that might accrue to them offer an incentive for others to undertake education. However, while this might be the case in some circumstances, for the most part there is no lack of demand for education in developing countries. Rather, what are important are institutional and social barriers to participation such as ill-health, inability to release time or afford user fees (on the demand side) and problems with provision due to lack of resources or teachers (on the supply side).

  • Technology and knowledge transfer

The idea that migrants will either return to their country of origin after a period in the receiving country during which their skills and knowledge were enhanced (e.g. students) or that migrants will establish networks between developed and developing countries for the transfer of knowledge and technology to their home country. However, there are limitations to these effects. Where students (their governments or other sponsors) pay tuition fees the skills and knowledge transfer has been bought and thus an equal and opposite financial transfer has taken place. Moreover, the evidence on the number of people who do return is patchy, with some suggestion in the literature that return is less likely for the higher skilled who find it easier to integrate in recipient countries. In addition, evidence over the extent of technology and knowledge sharing networks was also scant, questioning the extent to which this takes place. Finally, any transfer that does take place needs to be weighed against the opportunity cost that would not have been incurred if the migration had not taken place.

  • Remittances:

The main factor mentioned as offsetting the Brain Drain is that migrants send large financial transfers back to their home country. There is substantial evidence that this is indeed a major offsetting factor. In Nepal and other some developing countries remittances are the main source of foreign earnings. On the economy of the Nepal remittances take part the 30 percent among the whole budget of the fiscal year.  However, as important as the scale of remittances is the use to which it is put.There are important arguments to suggest that remittances might also create problems unless they are more effectively channelled into productive and social investments in developing countries. Whether or not the impact of skilled labour migration is negative will depend then on a small number of factors (or determinants) which include whether or not the lost labour could be usefully employed in the home country, whether or not and how skilled migrants remit and what purpose remittances are put to and whether or not skilled migrants subsequently return or engage in knowledge and technology transfer activities.

Negative aspects of the Brain Drain:

Brain drain is harmful for any country. It effects on economy and social area of a country. Country loses a quality of skilled workers. Its true other country provide better salary scale but every country want that’s type of people because they can help to development of country. Almost the top layers of student in many highest level of educational institution are the one to go out. Our country couldn’t provide them a best scholarship and they go away without helping our nation. Brain drain can be described as the process in which a country loses its most educated and talented workers to other countries through migration. This trend is considered a problem, because the most highly skilled and competent individuals leave the country, and contribute their expertise to the economy of other countries. The country they leave can suffer economic hardships because those who remain don’t have the ‘know-how’ to make a difference.

Brain drain can also be defined as the loss of the academic and technological labour force through the moving of human capital to more favourable geographic, economic, or professional environments. More often than not, the movement occurs from Nepal to America or other developed nations. Higher paying jobs and a better quality of life attract the people to its superior economic outlook, the prestige of foreign training, relatively stable political environment, and a modernized educational system to allow for superior training, intellectual freedom, and rich cultures. These lists are not complete. There may be other factors, some of which can be specific to countries or even to individuals. When brain drain is prevalent in a developing country, there may be some negative repercussions that can affect the economy. These effects include but are not limited to:

  1. Loss of tax revenue
  2. Loss of potential future entrepreneurs
  3. A shortage of important, skilled workers
  4. The exodus may lead to loss of confidence in the economy, which will cause persons to desire to leave rather than stay
  5. Loss of innovative ideas
  6. Loss of the country’s investment in education
  7. The loss of critical health and education services

To add above in description of brain drain, its by-product of capitalising better opportunities by a bled people. In addition, I would like to point that brain drain is bad for not just one country but in long run, it is also bad for country which constantly consuming talent from other country. The country constantly consuming talent from outside deprives its own people from jobs and creates a great problem for it.


the ‘brain drain’ involves both positive and negative consequences for both countries of origin and countries of destination. Available literature upholds the opinion that host countries, which are mostly developed countries, benefit rather more than they lose. The migration of skilled people enables them to hire highly-skilled specialists, saving money (since at least part of the training of these professionals was paid for by the

sending countries), and maintaining a comparative advantage in the progress of science and technology (Straubhaar and Wolburg, 1999).

In the case of untrained human capital, the export of education services (through the importing of foreign students) has become a major money earner for many parts of the industrialized world. This not only qualifies education as one of the best selling “exports”, but also means that, in effect, these highly developed countries are experiencing either a net “brain gain” or “brain exchange”. These two new phenomena have consequences, not just for the “education business”, but also for the future of the economy. As a result of this openness towards foreign students a large number of jobs are created, directly and indirectly. In contrast, the country of origin, according to the traditional brain-drain literature, considers the emigration of highly qualified professionals as destructive for the economy.

The high scale of the brain drain and the desire to emigrate amongst many young people in universities and research institutions all over the country has negatively affected the long-term motivation of research workers. It is well known that for someone engaged in research work, the benefits are often only experienced in the long time. For example, a historian may need to work for many years in libraries and archives to produce. Another negative impact of the “brain drain” is that it does not produce positive signals for the country of origin. If professionals are leaving their country, potential investors are likely to view this as a negative reflection of the country. This means that foreign investors may begin to question if the country that is experiencing outflow of professionals is a good location for their funds, if they perceive the emigration of professionals as a sign that the economic and political future of the country is uncertain.

Finally, in the long run, with the emigration of qualified professionals, the sending country loses not only the current but also the future stock of human capital. Professionals who emigrate are more likely than other groups to leave the country with their dependents, specifically their children. Yet, the latter have a high probability of also becoming educated and qualified professionals in the future. This future cohort of professionals is then also lost to the economy of the sending country.

Solution of brain drain requires efforts from all three Parties involved in it. Country losing talent should create better and competitive opportunities to stop talent flow. Country consuming talent should keep check that they don’t over consume and create problem for their own people. Talented people should be having more patience. Just to conclude and sum up let me write again: It is almost hard to separate the two faces of a coin; similarly, it’s very tough to say whether brain drain is right or wrong. It does depend on the nation’s policy and how the country and its people take the brain drain, as a boon or as a curse…….


  • Mohammad Reza Iravani, Brain drain Problem: A Review International Journal of Business and Social Science Vol. 2 No. 15; August 2011.
  • Gedeshi I., Mara H., The encouragement of social-economic development in relation to the growth of the role of the remittances, UNDP & Soros Foundation,2008.
  • Bhagwati, J. “The Brain Drain, International Integration of Markets for Professionals and Unemployment”, in the Journal of Development Economics, 1(1): 19-24 (2010).
  • Human Developing Report/2010.

Prepared By

DP karki


Madan Bhandari Memorial College