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Brain drain, brain gain, India

Migration A–Z


  1. Binod Khadria

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm073

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Khadria, B. 2013. Brain drain, brain gain, India. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


The origin of the concept of “brain drain” is often attributed to the large scale migration of British doctors to the US in the late 1950s and early 1960s, followed in turn by the exodus of Asian doctors from the Indian subcontinent to the UK in the 1960s (Khadria 2007). The value-loaded concept implied loss of human capital, embodied in the human brain, when highly qualified people moved away from the country of origin that invested in their education (and health), settled down in a foreign land permanently, and contributed to the development and growth of that country of abode. The loss of human capital through brain drain has been primarily looked at in binary terms of a monetary “investment loss” and/or a “skill loss” of the workforce initially (Sen 1973), and later in generic terms of an erosion of the all-encompassing index of average “productiveness” of the workforce (Khadria 1999). The concept of “brain gain” was simply the flip side of the brain drain, signifying the benefits that the relatively more developed countries of destination derived from the immigration of highly qualified foreign nationals. Ironically, it has been only recently that the connotation has shifted to imply the benefits that the country of origin could derive when its own nationals returned from abroad, presumably with value added in their human capital from the experience gained overseas.


  • capitalism;
  • labor;
  • labor supply;
  • political economy;
  • regional development;
  • Development