Modeling the effects of physician emigration on human development

Econ Hum Biol. 2011 Mar;9(2):172-83. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2010.12.004. Epub 2011 Jan 15.


We analyzed the effects of physician emigration on human development indicators in developing countries. First, the geographical distribution of physician brain drain was documented for the period 1991-2004. Second, random and fixed effects models were employed to investigate the effects of physicians in the home countries and abroad on child mortality and vaccination rates. Third, models were estimated to investigate migration-induced incentives in the medical sector that would increase the number of physicians. The results showed positive effects of migration prospects on medical training though the magnitude was too small for generating a net brain gain. Also, infant and child mortality rates were negatively associated with the number of physicians per capita after adult literacy rates exceeded 60%. The results for DPT and measles vaccinations underscored the importance of literacy rates and physicians per capita for higher vaccination rates. From the standpoint of Millennium Development Goals, reducing medical brain drain is likely to have only small benefits for child mortality and vaccination rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Developing Countries
  • Emigration and Immigration / trends*
  • Human Development / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Econometric
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Physicians / supply & distribution*