Is 'brain drain' a thing of the past?

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ImageLately, I’ve noticed several bloggers and news sites have picked up on an interesting trend migration trend that many have dubbed "reverse brain drain" – the return of skilled immigrants to their home countries. With rising unemployment and an often-difficult U.S. immigration process, the notion of looking back at home for work has reportedly appealed to foreign nationals working in the United States for technology, finance and other industries.

World Bank economist Sonia Plaza writes on the People Move blog about the shift in terminology over the years caused by new trends. In the 1990s, the term "brain drain" – so called because developing countries lost their best and brightest people – in some places became "brain gain"(pdf), writes Plaza, because of the increase in practices like return migration and remittances (money sent by immigrants to family in their home country). Plaza goes on to cite a U.S. Census Bureau report (pdf) that indicates "a larger percentage of foreign-born than native-born residents had a master’s degree or higher in 2007."

Interestingly, China's largest financial institutions have apparently started traveling to Western countries to recruit talent from abroad (via CDT). The video below from is about Chinese companies that are trying to recruit those who have been laid off in the financial crisis.

(via The Big Picture blog)

Are we witnessing a sea change in recruitment and migration practices from China and other growing countries? Or will such practices not last as the world economies come out of the financial crisis?

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