Is the medical brain drain beneficial? Evidence from overseas doctors in the UK

Soc Sci Med. 2007 Sep;65(5):915-23. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.04.021. Epub 2007 Jun 13.


The 'beneficial brain drain' hypothesis suggests that skilled migration can be good for a sending country because the incentives it creates for obtaining training increase that country's net supply of skilled labour. Necessary conditions for this hypothesis to work are that the possibility of migration significantly affects decisions to take medical training and that migrants are not strongly screened by the host country. We conducted a survey among overseas doctors in the UK in 2002, which suggested that neither condition is likely to be fulfilled. Apart from the 'beneficial brain drain' argument, the survey findings also cast light on the backgrounds and motives of migrant doctors, and finds evidence that there could, nonetheless, be other benefits to sending countries via routes like remittances and return migration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Foreign Medical Graduates*
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Physicians / supply & distribution
  • United Kingdom