Conventional wisdom holds that the emigration of highly skilled workers depletes local human capital developing countries. But when the very prospect of emigration induces people to invest more in their education, the effects might not be so negative. We analyze a unique natural quasi-experiment in the Republic of Fiji Islands, where political shocks have provoked one of the largest recorded expoduses of skilled workers from a developing country. We use rich census and administrative microdata to show that high rates of emigration by tertiary-educated Fiji Islanders not only raised investment in tertiary education in Fiji, but also raised the stock of tertiary-educated people in Fiji - net departures.
Michael Clemens is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development where he leads the Migration and Development initiatiave. His research focuses on the effects of international migration from and in developing countries. Michael joined the Center after completing his Ph.D. in economics at Harvard. His past writings have focused on the effects of foreign aid, determinants of capital flows and effects of tariff policy in the 19th century and the historical determinants of school system expansion. Michael has served as a consultant for the World Bank, Bain & Co., the Environmental Defense Fund, and the United Nations Development Program.