Skilled emigrants benefit China, says expert
China in the World | Labour and Migration
Around half of all legal emigrants from China to OECD countries are university graduates but, far from amounting to a 'brain drain,' the emigration benefits China by boosting international trade and stimulating higher education in China, according to a World Bank study by a leading economist.
Alan Winters, Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and also Director of World Bank's Development Research Group presented his findings at a Beijing seminar in June.
The overall flow of emigrants from China is low relative to the total population, he said, with around 1.5 million people legally departing the country each year. This is comparable to the flows from Turkey, India and the Philippines and substantially less than Mexico, the world's current leading exporter of labour, with 6.5 million people leaving each year.
But while only 15% of Mexican émigrés have tertiary qualifications, more than half of Chinese do. The USA, Canada and Australia, whose selective immigration policies give preference to highly skilled emigrants, top the list of destinations for the Chinese.
The loss of some 750,000 Chinese graduates a year is not necessarily a problem for China, argued Professor Winters. Apart from the foreign remittances they send home, he said, a 'diaspora effect' is associated with 32-60% increases in trade volumes between China and countries where ethnic Chinese account for more than 1% of the total population. Relationship networks and trust are thought to be pivotal to this trade growth.
Less tangible advantages of emigration included incentives for education, whereby the prospect of higher wages and overseas training stimulate educational attainment. However, the cost of failing to secure more lucrative overseas contracts can also bring about unplanned consequences. Findings also show that increased skill pools can have the effect of bringing down domestic wages.
Data generated by the report also suggest that the chance of Chinese emigrants finding a skilled job has increased significantly over the 1999s from around 40% to 50%.
Report by Matt Perrement, June 20 2005