Brain drain in Ja more ev­i­dent among women

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS - McPherse Thomp­son As­sis­tant Editor – Busi­ness mcpherse.thomp­[email protected]­erjm.com

AMONG JAMAICABOR­N women liv­ing in the United States, 50 per cent have at least a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion, ev­i­denc­ing the sig­nif­i­cant brain drain, es­pe­cially among that gen­der from Ja­maica.

Nearly a third of all women with at least a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion in Ja­maica have em­i­grated, com­pared with about 13 per cent of those with high-school cer­ti­fi­ca­tion or less, ac­cord­ing to the May 2017 In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF) re­gional eco­nomic out­look for the Western Hemi­sphere.

Those pat­terns re­flect the sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of Ja­maican nurses and health-care prac­ti­tion­ers, it said, not­ing that 65 per cent of Ja­maican im­mi­grants are em­ployed in those sec­tors com­pared with seven per cent in the US-born pop­u­la­tion.

The re­port said that for men, the sta­tis­tics are not as strik­ing, but there is nev­er­the­less ev­i­dence of brain drain.

While it does not pro­vide an es­ti­mate of the num­ber of Ja­maican men who have em­i­grated to the US, it said that 21 per cent of men in Ja­maica are col­lege-ed­u­cated and 37 per cent of Ja­maican men in the US have at least a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion.

The IMF said nearly half of Caribbean em­i­grants re­sid­ing in the United States have at least a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion, a ra­tio com­pa­ra­ble to the US na­tive-born pop­u­la­tion. In con­trast, only a quar­ter of em­i­grants in the US from the Latin Amer­i­can re­gion have at least a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Fund’s re­gional out­look, to truly ex­am­ine brain drain from the home coun­try, ed­u­ca­tional lev­els of im­mi­grants in the host coun­try are not suf­fi­cient and that at­tain­ment lev­els in the home coun­try are nec­es­sary for com­par­isons.

It said Ja­maica is one of the very few coun­tries in the Caribbean which pub­lish house­hold data that in­cludes de­tailed ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment.

Point­ing to the 50 per cent of Ja­maica-born women liv­ing in the US who have been col­lege ed­u­cated, the re­port said “this is dou­ble the at­tain­ment rate in the home coun­try, where only a quar­ter of women have a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion”.

The Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion for Latin Amer­i­can and the Caribbean (ECLAC) — a United Na­tions body — ranks Ja­maica sec­ond af­ter Guyana in the num­ber of em­i­grants as a share of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion in its May 2017 re­port on the em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion in the re­gion.

It pro­vides data which show that as at around 2010, there were ap­prox­i­mately 803,000 Ja­maican em­i­grants or 29.3 per cent of the 2.74 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion, while Guyanese em­i­grants ac­counted for about 374,000 or 49.7 per cent of its 753,000 pop­u­la­tion, and Trinidad & Tobago with 301,000 or 22.7 per cent of its pop­u­la­tion of 1.32 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion.

MIN­I­MUM ES­TI­MATES

ECLAC said, how­ever, that the fig­ures on em­i­grants are min­i­mum es­ti­mates, in as much as they con­sider only a lim­ited num­ber of coun­tries from Europe and Ocea­nia.

Var­i­ous sources have sug­gested that there are nearly as many Ja­maicans liv­ing out­side of Ja­maica as there are liv­ing in the is­land.

The IMF re­gional out­look sug­gests that out­ward mi­gra­tion in iso­la­tion may lower growth in home coun­tries through re­duced labour sup­ply and pro­duc­tiv­ity, but the re­mit­tances sent home by mi­grant work­ers serve as a mit­i­gat­ing fac­tor, both by serving as a large and rel­a­tively sta­ble source of ex­ter­nal fi­nanc­ing, no­tably in Cen­tral Amer­ica and the Caribbean, and by help­ing to cush­ion the im­pact of eco­nomic shocks.

It said tar­geted re­forms in home coun­tries can help re­duce out­ward mi­gra­tion and the at­ten­dant ad­verse con­se­quences, in par­tic­u­lar, struc­tural re­forms aimed at lever­ag­ing the pool of high-skilled and highly ed­u­cated work­ers to foster eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion at home.

In the short term, it said, steps to curb brain drain could ame­lio­rate the neg­a­tive ef­fects from em­i­gra­tion. “Be­cause the type of em­i­gra­tion linked to brain drain typ­i­cally gen­er­ates rel­a­tively lit­tle re­mit­tances, the net ef­fect for th­ese coun­tries can be es­pe­cially neg­a­tive (de­spite be­ing ben­e­fi­cial for the in­di­vid­ual),” the re­port added.

“Th­ese find­ings sup­port the case for long-term mea­sures to re­tain po­ten­tial em­i­grants, ei­ther through struc­tural re­forms that foster job op­por­tu­ni­ties for the highly ed­u­cated (for ex­am­ple, the de­vel­op­ment of a med­i­cal tourism in­dus­try) or through shorter-term mea­sures to limit the sub­sidi­s­a­tion of brain drain with pub­lic funds (for ex­am­ple, through bond­ing schemes, whereby peo­ple who have ben­e­fited from pub­lic fund­ing for ed­u­ca­tion must re­main in the home coun­try for a num­ber of years).”

The In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund head­quar­ters in Wash­ing­ton DC.

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