Emigration of the Highly Skilled from Germany to the US: “Brain Drain” or “Brain Circulation”?

Claudia Diehl, Federal Institute for Population Research, Germany
David Dixon, Migration Policy Institute

Our paper tackles the question of whether the emigration of highly skilled Germans to the US resembles a “brain circulation” rather than a “brain drain.” Our findings show that the skill level as well as the number of Germans living in the US has increased substantially between 1990 and 2000. Further analyses reveal, however, that these processes are mainly due to a substantial increase in the number of highly skilled Germans who stay in the US temporarily. The share of those who adjust their status to become permanent residents has remained stable. This led to an increase in the number of permanent immigrants from Germany. Much of this increase can thus be attributed to a growing integration in research and business: Some temporary migrants built social and institutional ties in the US and stayed. Push factors in the country of origin seem to be less important in explaining increasing numbers of Germans settling abroad.

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Presented in Session 130: Temporary Migration