Skip to main content

CEP discussion paper

Is the Medical Brain Drain Beneficial? Evidence from Overseas Doctors in the UK


The ¿beneficial brain drain¿ hypothesis suggests that skilled migration can be good for a sending country because the incentives it creates for training increase that country¿s supply of skilled labour. To work, this hypothesis requires that the degree of screening of migrants by the host country is limited and that the possibility of migration actually encourages home country residents to obtain education. We studied the implications of doctors¿ migration by conducting a survey among overseas doctors in the UK. The results suggest that the overseas doctors who come to the UK are carefully screened and that only a minority of doctors from developing countries considered the possibility of migration when they chose to obtain medical education. The incentive effect is thus probably not large enough to increase the skills-supply in developing countries. Doctors do, however, remit income to their home countries and many intend to return after completing their training in the UK, so there could be benefits via these routes.


Simon Commander, Mari Kangasniemi and L. Alan Winters

February 2004     Paper Number CEPDP0618

Download PDF - Is the Medical Brain Drain Beneficial? Evidence from Overseas Doctors in the UK

This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Labour markets programme.