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date: 23 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Migrants are increasingly skilled. Historically British emigration was disproportionately skilled and new comparative OECD data shows the continuing brain drain from Europe to the USA. However skilled migration is best understood as skilled mobility not migration: permanent settlement in a destination country is a limiting case within a multiplicity of movements exemplified by the international commuting of the financial services elite. Immigration policies increasingly attempt to attract the best and the brightest. Rising mobility is driven by firms’ recruitment policies, but also by individuals’ motivations which are often non-financial. Skilled mobility is now claimed to benefit both origin and destination countries through circular migration and knowledge transfer. However, skilled mobility can also promote privatisation of higher education in origin countries and lower investment in training in receiving countries. A typology of skilled mobility suggests some forms can increase income inequality in destination countries.

Keywords: brain-drain, British emigration, circular migration, immigration policy, mobility, migration, skill flows

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