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Highly Skilled Migration: What Differentiates the ‘Brains’ Who Are Drained from Those Who Return in the Case of Greece?


Correspondence to: Lois Labrianidis, Department of Economics, Regional Development and Policy Research Unit, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece.



The migration of highly educated population (brain drain) poses extremely significant impacts on origin countries' development, especially in cases in which, owing to their economic and social structures, these countries cannot promote the efficient allocation of their professionals. At the same time, the decision of those migrants to return home or remain abroad is affected by several factors. This paper aims to analyse this phenomenon by using primary data collected from Greece. Our findings indicate that it is not reasonable to expect that a large share of these people is likely to return, especially given the ongoing economic and social crises that further exacerbate the observed mismatch between supply and demand for a highly educated workforce in the country. These empirical results can assist the formulation of specific policy measures in order to reap the benefits of those individuals' presence abroad, which can undoubtedly enhance the developmental prospects of European countries. This study constitutes the first one on brain drain from Greece, while it is also the first study to compare highly skilled migrants who still work abroad to those who have returned. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.