Summer 2013

Determinants & Consequences of the Brain Drain

Alejandro Portes and Adrienne Celaya

This essay reviews existing theories of professional emigration as background to examine the present situation. Classical theories of the brain drain neglected the possibility that immigrant professionals would return to their home countries and make significant investments and economic contributions there. They do, in fact, with beneficial consequences for the development of these countries. The advent of the transnational perspective in the field of immigration has helped clarify these dynamics, while identifying the conditions under which professional cyclical returns and knowledge transfers can take place. Implications for the future attraction of foreign professionals by the United States and other advanced countries are discussed.

ALEJANDRO PORTES, a Fellow of the American Academy since 1998, is the Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. His publications include Economic Sociology: A Systematic Inquiry (2010), Immigrant America: A Portrait (with Rubén Rumbaut; 3rd ed., 2006), and Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation(with Rubén Rumbaut, 2001).

ADRIENNE CELAYA is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Miami. Her research interests include race and the criminal justice system, intimate partner violence, family violence lethality, and Latino/immigrant violence.

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