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Rabu, 10 Maret 2010

EU Policies and African Human Capital Development

African Economic Conference 2009
Fostering Development in an Era of Financial and Economic Crises
11 – 13 November 2009 • United Nations Conference Centre • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
African Development Bank Group Economic Commission for Africa
EU Policies and African Human Capital Development
Yaw Nyarko


EU Policies and African Human Capital
Development
Yaw Nyarko*,**
New York University
May 22, 2009
Paper Presentation for the ERD EU Conference in Accra on May 21-23, 2009

ABSTRACT:
Brain Circulation between the European Union (EU) and Sub-Saharan Africa is a crucial
ingredient in Human Capital formation in the latter. A major constraint to African
development is the very low base of skilled and highly educated workers and professionals.
The production of skilled workers has been low, and only recently has seen a dramatic
increase. Recent papers by many have indicated that a channel for human capital growth has
been, paradoxically, the possibility of the brain drain which serves as both an incentive
mechanism and which results in higher human capital when the drainers return. After a
review of some of the literature, these insights are applied to the debates raging today on
European Union migration policy: the Blue Card, Migration Contracts, anti-Brain Drain
legislation, etc. This paper argues that a careful calibration of the EU policies may enable
faster Human Capital growth in Africa while at the same time being beneficial to the EU by
supplying critically needed skills into the EU economy. By carefully planning the production
of human capital and the consequent flow of skilled migrants into Europe the EU can assist in
the development of vitally needed numbers of trained or skilled workers in Africa.
*I would like to thank the EU and in particular Giorgia Giovannetti who encouraged me two
work on this paper. This paper builds on prior joint work with my co-author William
Easterly and current work under the auspices of the National Bureau of Economic Research
(NBER) Africa Project. All errors are of course my own.
** Professor of Economics, New York University, Department of Economics, 19 West 4th
Street, NYC NY 10012. (email) yaw.nyarko@nyu.edu
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1. Introduction
Today there are vigorous debates and meetings going on in the halls of the European Union
(henceforth EU) and the African Union (henceforth AU) and at other multinational settings
the appropriate policies for migration between Africa and the European Union.
In this paper, we review some of the recent literature, including work of the author,
on the question of the Brain Drain which indicates that there are many positive aspects of the
Brain Drain, and that paradoxically the presence of a large Brain Drain may actually be
associated with high Human Capital because of incentives to get training in the first place and
also the fact that from those who drain come those who return, and that a large stock of
Drainers may result in a large stock of highly trained returnees. This has important
consequences for the current debates on EU migration policy.
The fear is that because of the current financial crisis, there may be an attempt to slow
the conversations and legislation and close the door to immigration into EU, both skilled and
unskilled. The computations and analyses of many recent papers, including those of this
author, suggest that this may not be a wise move. By causing restrictions in the ability of
Africans to migrate, the financial crisis may have important negative consequences on human
capital development in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The conversations on EU migration policy can usually be broken down into two
almost mutually exclusive topics – skilled migration and unskilled migration, and two
perspectives – the European and the African.
First, there are the debates on unskilled labor. Due to local political pressures within
the EU, there is usually a desire to restrict the immigration of unskilled laborers. The
discussions around the unskilled immigration into the EU very quickly becomes one of law
enforcement and how to handle refugees, with many stark pictures of hungry and thirsty
immigrants hanging onto life in very fragile boats. On the issue of unskilled labor, there is
usually much less passion on the African side. Often there are entreaties that nationals be
treated well and with dignity; occasionally one hears of African leaders using the threat of
surges of immigrants to extract better concessions from the EU.
On the other hand, there are the debates around skilled labor. On the European side
there is the question of the need for skilled labor to enter into Europe to help in economic
growth and also because of the aging of the European populations. On the African side the
debate typically revolves around the brain drain and the loss of skills in Africa. In that view,
Africa is losing vitally needed skilled professionals to Europe. The argument is typically
made that those skilled were developed using scarce resources from poor African nations, and
that it is unjust that they be allowed to pick up and leave for Europe. It is typically the
claimed loss of health workers, Doctors and Nurses in particular, which seem to arouse the
most passion. (I am yet to hear of concern about the loss of economists, my own profession,
although I suspect that that number is also high.) There are voices in Europe, especially
among the NGOs, siding with this “African” view and advocating, for example, the banning
of the employment of African Nurses and doctors in the UK National Health Service. There
are also clauses within some drafts of the EU Blue Card directives, pushed by NGO’s and
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some African governments, which state that there should not be any “brain drain”
consequences, with health and education workers often explicitly mentioned.
This paper will take the perspective of African countries, but will stress that care
needs to be taken in calling for an unambiguous stop or halt to the Brain Drain. Many,
including this current author, have argued that there are channels through which the
emigration of skilled labor from Africa may be good for Africa (see Easterly and Nyarko
(2009), Clemens (2006), and Clemens and Pettersson (2008)). The computations in these
papers suggest that there is a net benefit of the Brain Drain to Africa since this has an
incentive effect and, more obviously, a large fraction of those who leave return with superior
skills.
A look at the data show a number of interesting things, which will be discussed in the
paper. First, a primary concern in Sub-Saharan Africa is the low level of the production of
human capital. In some countries there is indeed a huge brain drain. However, it is a large
percentage of an exceptionally small base. A great deal of attention is placed on the numbers
draining, and exceptionally small amounts Second, the literature has shown that it appears as
if the presence of a brain drain is itself an incentive for the creation of skills in the first time.
Many go through the process of acquiring human capital to enable them to take part in the
lottery associated with leaving the country in the brain drain and thereby receiving high
foreign wages. However since only a fraction are able to leave, those who do not leave are a
fraction of a higher number, which could be bigger than those who would remain if there was
no brain drain. Finally, the data show that there is a decent number who return after draining.
They often return with high human capital, having undertaken post-graduate studies and
obtaining experience in their jobs abroad.
All of this suggests that there should be ways to design EU policies on migration to
help increase Human Capital in Africa. This paper looks at a number of the policies currently
under consideration and evaluates their potential in increasing Human Capital in Africa.
There are, it is argued here, many possible gains to both Africa and the EU in carefully
calibrated migration policies. We look at the following debates in the EU regarding
immigration policies: the EU Blue Card for Skilled Migrants; bilateral Migration Contracts;
student loan schemes (or, to use more modern language, securitized education bonds), the
Bhagwati Brain Drain Tax (which we do not advocate), the Grey Haired Peace Corps (which
is a great idea, we believe due to Bhagwati) and Research and academic Consortia (which, we
must confess, represents a conflict of interest as the author is in an academic institution).
In the current financial crisis one of the items for which there is great concern,
stridently voiced by African leaders at many AU meetings, is the reduction in foreign aid, EU
engagement with Africa and, most importantly in the view of this author, the possible closing
of the door enabling emigration out of the Africa. This fear of course is not only related to
Africa-EU relations. In the US, development assistance and engagement was the only area
that President Obama said during his long campaign for President that would be reduced in
the current financial crisis was in international development. US Bailout monies have many
explicit and implicit restrictions requiring that recipients of funds do not use these to hire
foreign workers.
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This paper will review some of the historical interactions between the EU and Africa,
emphasizing the development of human capital. A quick review of some of the positive
advantages of skilled migration to Africa, documented in the literature, will be provided.
2. Some History – Ancient and Otherwise
As the very impassioned debates rage today, it is important to remember that the current
movements of people have been a staple of human existence since the beginning of human
history. A quick review may enable us to get a better perspective on the debates today.
The oldest Skeleton of our human ancestors seem to indicate the origin of man in
Africa, with the oldest skeletal remains in Tanzania, suggesting early origins in Ethiopia
and/or Tanzania. Then began the mother of all migrations with the exodus out of the rift
valley from which all human populations outside of Africa are believed to have originated.
From the 1500’s and onwards saw the movement of significant numbers of
Europeans, with superior fighting technologies, back into Africa in the eras of conquest. Next
came the Atlantic Slave Trade which resulted in the migration of millions back out of Africa
and into the European dominated New World.
At the close of the era of Slavery we saw the beginnings of the movement of Africans
to Europe for educational purposes, returning with education back to Africa. A much studied
early instance of this is the ex slave Jacobus Capitein who was sold into slavery in Elmina
around 1735. He was given formal education in the Netherlands and, because he showed
much promise was enrolled in a four year program in the University of Leiden in theology.
He later returned to Africa and became a Chaplain in Elmina at a time when slavery was still
practiced there. Either because of that experience or something else, he began to theorize that
Slavery was consistent with Christianity. He believed in the “the Curse of Ham” –the theory
that Africans are descendants of Ham, the son of Noah who Noah cursed to be a slave of his
brothers, so could be enslaved.
Fourah Bay College was founded in 1827 and was west Africa’s first European style
university (as opposed to older Islamic centers of learning). It was aligned to University of
Durham in the UK and was a center for returned Slaves. For a long time it was the hub of
academic and intellectual activity in West Africa, with African literature and newspapers, and
the writings and debates there formed the beginnings of the African liberation movements.
Many of the leaders of the Fante confederacy were educated in Fourah Bay or received their
inspiration from academic leaders there.
The early parts of the 20th Century saw many Africans travel to Europe and the US,
and return to lead the Independence movement against the colonial administrations. Kwame
Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta and many other African independence leaders began organizing as
students while abroad as students. The past couple of decades have seen increased
emigration of Africans as the economies of their home countries have collapsed and as war
has afflicted many nations. The next section will quickly review the data on recent
migrations, with special attention to skilled emigration.
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3. The Picture Today from available Data Sources
Conversations on Human Capital formation in Africa never seems to go beyond the
issue of the Brain Drain. We will begin with this and look at the data which give us a
snapshot of the Africans living abroad. The important recent studies on the Brain drain is
due to Docquier and Marfouk (2005), Bhargava and Frédéric Docquier (2007), and coauthors.
Discussions on the African Brain drain often begin with the tables showing high
rates of emigration of the skilled from Africa. It is these figures which stir up the passion and
lead to almost immediate pleas to halt the brain drain.
Table 1: Emigration Rates of Labor as Percentage of total labor of given skill level.
RATES OF EMIGRATION OF DIFFERENT SKILL LEVELS (2000)
COUNTRIES HIGH MEDIUM LOW
Cape Verde 67.46% 37.44% 18.66%
Gambia 63.29% 8.27% 1.92%
Mauritius 56.17% 9.06% 7.52%
Seychelles 55.87% 18.93% 10.94%
Sierra Leone 52.52% 7.92% 0.43%
Ghana 46.86% 2.41% 0.76%
Mozambique 45.13% 6.33% 0.58%
Liberia 44.99% 9.21% 0.54%
Kenya 38.44% 3.91% 0.40%
Uganda 35.56% 3.13% 0.28%
Eritrea 33.98% 7.47% 0.75%
Angola 32.95% 7.75% 1.87%
Somalia 32.65% 9.37% 1.57%
Rwanda 25.99% 3.50% 0.09%
Guinea-Bissau 24.42% 4.95% 1.65%
Congo 22.16% 2.44% 1.63%
Sao Tome and Principe 21.96% 5.68% 4.57%
Comoros 21.19% 3.12% 3.44%
Togo 18.74% 1.67% 0.61%
Malawi 18.72% 2.51% 0.08%
Senegal 17.70% 6.19% 2.07%
Source: Docquier and Marfouk (2005)
Table 1 shows the emigration rates of different skill levels. Low-skilled workers are
those with primary education (or with 0 to 8 years of schooling); medium-skilled workers are
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those with secondary education (9 to 12 years of schooling); high-skilled workers are those
with tertiary education (13 years and above). The data show what fraction of working age
people (25 years and above) born in a given country and of a particular skill level are residing
outside the country. The top 5 or 6 countries have more than half of all tertiary-educated
nationals by birth resident abroad. The top 4 countries are all small nations (Cape Verde,
Gambia, Mauritius and Seychelles) are all small nations – and many small nations have high
brain drain rates. Sierra Leone has just experience internal conflict. Ghana is a relatively
large country with a large skilled brain drain, 46.86%, and will be used often as an illustration
of the material to follow. Kenya and Uganda also have relatively large skilled emigration
rates, at 38.44% and 35.56% respectively. Nigeria and South Africa are on the lower end,
with 10.72% and 7.51%. In comparison, the skilled migration rates of China and India are
respectively 3.8% and 4.3%.
There are also data in Table 2 on the skill composition of the emigrants. Some of the
larger countries like Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria have about half of the Emigrants being highly
skilled. Interestingly, for some of the poorer and smaller countries and some Francophone
countries, most of the emigrants are unskilled (e.g., Mali, Comoros, Algeria and Morocco
with between 81% and 70% unskilled) as we can see from Table 3.
Table 2: Distribution of Skills among the Emigrants.
DISTRIBUTION OF SKILL LEVELS AMONG
EMIGRANTS IN 2000
COUNTRIES HIGH MEDIUM LOW
Cape Verde 0.1515 0.2936 0.5548
Gambia 0.2037 0.2822 0.5141
Mauritius 0.2886 0.2792 0.4322
Seychelles 0.3707 0.335 0.2943
Sierra Leone 0.5036 0.3172 0.1792
Ghana 0.4407 0.31 0.2493
Mozambique 0.1773 0.2185 0.6042
Liberia 0.5848 0.2845 0.1306
Kenya 0.4483 0.348 0.2037
Uganda 0.4617 0.3033 0.2349
Eritrea 0.4053 0.3351 0.2596
Angola 0.1693 0.2343 0.5964
Somalia 0.2818 0.3169 0.4013
Rwanda 0.4835 0.2798 0.2367
Guinea-Bissau 0.1425 0.1862 0.6713
Congo 0.405 0.2456 0.3494
Sao Tome and Principe 0.1842 0.2102 0.6056
Comoros 0.1344 0.0765 0.7891
Togo 0.3999 0.1682 0.4319
Malawi 0.4318 0.322 0.2462
Senegal 0.1673 0.1494 0.6833
Source: Docquier and Marfouk (2005)
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Table 3: Distribution of Skills among the Emigrants (Sorted by top Unskilled).
COUNTRIES WITH MANY UNSKILLED
EMIGRANTS IN 2000
COUNTRIES HIGH MEDIUM LOW
Mali 0.1092 0.079 0.8118
Comoros 0.1344 0.0765 0.7891
Algeria 0.1407 0.0918 0.7674
Tunisia 0.149 0.1209 0.7301
Morocco 0.1289 0.1646 0.7065
Senegal 0.1673 0.1494 0.6833
Guinea-Bissau 0.1425 0.1862 0.6713
Mauritania 0.2192 0.1464 0.6344
Sao Tome and Principe 0.1842 0.2102 0.6056
Mozambique 0.1773 0.2185 0.6042
Angola 0.1693 0.2343 0.5964
Burkina Faso 0.3008 0.1225 0.5767
Cape Verde 0.1515 0.2936 0.5548
Source: Docquier and Marfouk (2005)
Although the percentages tell a very interesting story, what is probably much more
interesting and more important is not the rates of emigration but the quantities of emigration.
In particular, it is very surprising that the numbers are so very small. As we see from Table 4,
Ghana, a country of almost 20 million in 2000 and with a high skilled emigration rate of
46.86% has but all of 81,000 tertiary educated in the country and 71,309 abroad. The rates of
skilled emigration are high, but the absolute numbers are tiny. My own university, New York
University, which is in a state of the US with a population similar to that of Ghana in 2000
has 40,000 students with half in the undergraduate level and half at the graduate level. One
University has half the total number of tertiary educated within the Ghana and a quarter of all
highly skilled Ghanaian workers. The same is true for many of the other high Brain Drain
countries. The big issue with high skilled labor in many sub-Saharan African nations is not
the Brain Drain but the exceptionally small numbers of highly skilled workers.
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Table 4: Numbers of High Skilled Emigrants
HIGH SKILLED EMIGRANTS AND STOCK IN COUNTRY
COUNTRIES EMIGRANTS RESIDENTS
Cape Verde 8128 4000
Gambia 3648 2000
Mauritius 23043 18000
Seychelles 2426 2000
Sierra Leone 18010 16000
Ghana 71309 81000
Mozambique 10696 13000
Liberia 20842 25000
Kenya 77516 124000
Uganda 34970 63000
Eritrea 13144 26000
Angola 20449 42000
Somalia 27916 58000
Rwanda 4528 13000
Guinea-Bissau 1525 5000
Congo 14672 52000
Sao Tome and
Principe 571 2000
Comoros 1349 5000
Togo 7874 34000
Malawi 5474 24000
Senegal 15729 73000
Source: Docquier and Marfouk (2005) From many empirical and theoretical economics
papers (see Spiegel and Benhabib (2000, 2005), we believe that highly skilled labor is a
critical component in the adoption of technologies and, through this mechanism, it is critical
in increasing economic growth. The very low numbers of highly skilled labor in many
African countries is therefore of great concern. Many of the countries with high brain drain
rates are those with small numbers of highly skilled to begin with. The countries with large
numbers of emigrants tend to be the bigger countries (South Africa and the Arab countries)
which also have low emigration rates, as indicated in Table 5.
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Table 5: Countries Largest Numbers of High Skilled Emigrants
HIGH SKILLED EMIGRANTS SORTED BY NUMBER OF EMIGRANTS
COUNTRIES
EMIG.
RATE
DRAINED IN
OECD
LOCAL
ECONOMY
South Africa 0.0751 168,083 2,071,000
Nigeria 0.1072 149,494 1,245,000
Egypt 0.0455 149,432 3,131,000
Morocco 0.1695 141,168 691,000
Algeria 0.0942 85,537 822,000
Kenya 0.3844 77,516 124,000
Ghana 0.4686 71,309 81,000
Ethiopia 0.1006 51,392 460,000
Tunisia 0.1255 39,350 274,000
Uganda 0.3556 34,970 63,000
Zimbabwe 0.1274 32,676 224,000
Tanzania 0.1236 32,255 229,000
Source: Docquier and Marfouk (2005)
Also of interest are the data from the UK Census (2001) on the percentage of Blacks
among the emigrants from African countries. The usual story on the Brain drain runs along
the lines of Black Africans trained by their national governments who go abroad for greener
pastures. We see in Table 6 that for many African countries there are only small percentages
who are Black African, suggesting that the emigration may have more to do with national
politics than economics. This, one would presume, is the case in countries like South Africa
(3% of Emigrants are Black), Mozambique (9% Black), Kenya (11% Black) and Tanzania
(13% Black).
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Table 6: Percentage and Numbers of Black African High Skilled Emigrants in the UK
COUNTRIES % BLACK
NUM
BLACK TOTAL
Mauritius 2.00% 569 27080
South Africa 3.00% 4389 141394
Mozambique 9.00% 310 3352
Kenya 11.00% 13666 129632
Namibia 13.00% 160 1232
Tanzania 13.00% 4222 32635
Malawi 15.00% 1910 12343
Madagascar 17.00% 132 787
Zambia 24.00% 5140 21530
Central African Republic 25.00% 77 310
Uganda 27.00% 14901 55212
Swaziland 28.00% 245 862
Mauritania 36.00% 9 25
Zimbabwe 37.00% 18270 49524
Lesotho 40.00% 132 328
Source: UK Census (2001)
One group of skilled emigrants that receives a lot of press is medical profession and
doctors in particular. A similar pattern emerges regarding the emigration of doctors. There
are high emigration rates of doctors from many African countries. Table 7 gives the list of the
countries with the highest rates of emigration.
Table 7: Emigration of African Doctors in (2004)
COUNTRIES
Rate of
Emigration DRAINED LOCAL
Cape Verde 0.55 98 80
Sao Tome and
Principe 0.45 61 74
Liberia 0.42 56 78
Malawi 0.37 72 124
Zimbabwe 0.37 433 751
South Africa 0.32 15,136 31,718
Ghana 0.32 870 1,860
Somalia 0.26 136 385
Uganda 0.25 402 1,188
Ethiopia 0.24 603 1,961
Zambia 0.22 201 718
Sudan 0.17 1,083 5,307
Angola 0.14 183 1,082
Togo 0.13 42 275
Guinea 0.12 97 744
Cameroon 0.11 163 1,287
Source: Bhargava and Docquier (2007)
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Again we see that there are small countries with high emigration rates (Cape Verde
and Sao Tome Principe), as well as Zimbabwe and South Africa which, given what we saw
about the UK Census data in Table 6, suggests that a large percentage of these emigrant
doctors are non-white presumable leaving for political reasons as well as economic.
As before, even more startling is the paucity of the total number of doctors being
produced. The first 5 countries each have less than 200 doctors in total (drained and local):
Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe, Liberia, and Malawi. Ghana again is one of the large
countries with significant drain of doctors, 32%, but with relatively few doctors too - less
than 3000 in total. Again, New York University’s Medical school has about that number of
students and faculty!
It is interesting to note how this translates into patients per doctor. To set the context,
in Table 8 note there are around 300-400 patients per doctor in countries like the US, UK, and
other European nations, and 714 per doctor in Singapore. This is probably an underestimate
since it does not include foreign born doctors. In many African nations the numbers are
much higher with one doctor on average having around 88,000 patients in Malawi through to
11,000 approximately in Ghana. The issue here of course is the small number of doctors.
Even if all of he drained doctors were to return to their home country, the patient doctor ratios
will still be nowhere near the level of advanced countries. Since the technology used in the
advanced countries is presumably better than in the developing countries, the difference in
doctor patient ratio’s underestimates the difference in medical care.
Table 8: Patients per native born and resident Doctor in Home Country (2004)
COUNTRIES Current Patient/Doctor
Italy 227
France 303
United States 333
United Kingdom 476
Japan 500
Singapore 714
Source: Bhargava and Docquier (2007)
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Table 9: Patients per native born and resident Doctor in Home Country (2004) for some
select African Countries (highest 9 , some middle ranking, and Lowest 3)
COUNTRIES
Current
Pat/Doc
Malawi 88,403
Rwanda 53,471
Liberia 43,256
Mozambique 41,028
Chad 39,548
Ethiopia 34,989
Eritrea 33,258
Niger 29,929
Central African Republic 28,537
Angola 12,497
Cameroon 12,500
Ivory Coast 11,112
Ghana 11,112
Guinea 10,630
Senegal 10,524
Kenya 7,576
Algeria 1,000
Seychelles 757
Egypt 472
Source: Bhargava and Docquier (2007)
In passing, we should remark that skilled migrants from Africa are, for the most part,
somewhat evenly distributed between America and Europe, with an exception being South
Africa where there is a large percentage going to Asia/Oceania.
4. A Computation of Costs and Benefits over
Time of Educating Citizens
In Easterly and Nyarko (2009) computed some of the costs and benefits to the individual of
education. On the cost side, there is information available on the costs of educating each
student at the university level. There are two lotteries of importance in the computation.
Upon graduation, there is modeled a lottery faced by students where a fraction are able to
drain and go abroad, while the rest stay in the local economy. These probabilities are
obtained from the Emigration data presented in the earlier section. Those in the local
economy obtain increased salaries (relative to not getting tertiary education). These can be
estimated from local wage data.
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Those who drain obtain foreign country wages, estimated from the host country wage
and census data. They also send back remittances to their country of origin. This enables
us to perform a very simple net present value computation of the costs and benefits.
There is also an incentive effect that many authors have studied. In particular, the
possibility of draining and receiving high foreign country wages may be an incentive for
many to invest in education. The numbers within the school system will therefore be higher
in the presence of brain drain opportunities. The incentive effect could be so high that the
numbers left in the source country even after the drain is higher than if there was a smaller
level of the drain.
Finally, a fraction of those who leave also return to the home country. They return
with higher skills than when they left. Many leave to obtain further degrees. Some return
with experience in some industries.
It should be remembered that the data on the Brain Drain are snapshots, and do not
account for eventual return to the country of origin. Many who are currently in African
nations in top positions in Government have once before been classified as emigrants or the
Brain Drain, according to the protocols used in Table 1.
5. The Background to EU Policies on Migration
Any discussion on migration issues revolves around some population realities. European
population is predicted to decline over the next 50 years or so, becoming much older in the
process. Africa’s population is predicted to increase rapidly over time. In figure 1 we present
the data from UN sources on current (actually 2005) and projected future population levels in
Africa and Europe. Europe1 which has a population around 700 million today, is projected to
have a slight decline through 2025 and 2050. Africa, on the other hand, has a current
population close that of Europe (2005 populations are around 700 million and 900 million
respectively for Africa and Europe), but will be significantly larger than that of Europe in
2050 (a little less than 2 billion and 700 million and 900 million respectively for Africa and
Europe). In particular, Europe will be experiencing increasing labor shortages over time,
while Africa could end up with large numbers of young unemployed people. The fraction of
the European labor force made up of immigrants has been put at 10%2. The population
figures in Figure 1 seem to indicate that there will be pressures to increase that percentage
over time, with demand factors within Europe and supply pressures from Africa.
1 In the UN Population numbers used in the figure, Europe is defined as West of the
Ural Mountains.
2 A recent report by the French office of statistics, INSEE, as quoted in
http://www.migrationanddevelopment.net/popular-press-news/eu-bids-tobring-
africa-into-immigration-pact).
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Figure 1: Population of Africa and Europe
Source: UN Population Statistics
In addition to the differences in numbers, the demographic profiles will also be
different. Africa currently has, and is projected to continue to have, a relatively young
population while that of Europe is projected to become much greyer over time. While large
numbers Africans will be looking for work, large numbers of Europeans will be in need of
services and support during their old age.
Estimates state that there will be a short-fall of 20 million skilled and nonskilled
workers by 2030. Various estimates by the European Union predicts that the labor
shortages will peak around 2050, and there are estimates that at that time over one third of the
population will be over 65 years of age.
In addition to the question of the shortfall of labor and the need for immigration in the
EU, there is also the question of the balance between skilled and unskilled in the immigrant
pool in Europe. There is quite a bit of concern that the EU has a large number of unskilled
labor relative to skilled. There is a perception that it is primarily unskilled labor that goes
into Europe. Some data3 have indicated that 85% of the global unskilled migrants goes to the
EU with 5% going to the US, whereas 55% of skilled labor goes to US and only 5% goes to
the EU.
3 http://blog.globalvisas.com/what-is-the-eu-blue-card-immigration-scheme.html
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On the EU side, the debates hover around issues of how to keep out the unskilled
labor (with some voices saying that even the skilled are needed) and also how to attract and
retain skilled migrants into the country (with some voices saying that even the skilled should
be kept out). Those claiming that all migrants should be kept out, often point to the fact that
Europe is already currently the most populated region of the world.
The EU, with its member states are the largest contributors to foreign aid, which is
the mainstay of the national budgets of many African nations. One half of all Official
Development Aid comes from the EU. This aid exceeds that of the United States both in
terms of aggregate amounts and in terms of percentage of GDP.
Although the Official Development Aid of the EU is important, the earlier sections
indicated that EU policy may be equally important regarding Human Capital development in
Africa. In the next section, we will review some of the recent discussions and proposals on
EU immigration.
The EU Blue Card
The EU Blue Card Proposals
There is legislation in the process of being passed on the EU Blue Card. At the time of
writing, this has not yet been passed into law. Quite a bit of debate has gone around this in
the halls of the EU and in EU national parliaments.
The Blue Card is scheme is new legislation being proposed to help Europe recruit
highly skilled foreign labor into sectors which are experiencing job losses. There are a
number of parts to many versions of the legislation being proposed:
a. The applicant must have a "good" job in the EU and the relevant experience or
qualification (university degree). The job must have health insurance benefits, must meet an
income threshold (must be 1.7 times average gross salary in member country and not lower
than that in host country);
b. Family reunification benefits - spouses can also seek a job in the EU. Also, card holders
are allowed to leave for their home countries for more than the 6 months allowed on the US
Green Cards.
c. Community Preference: Preference for jobs should be given to Union citizens (e.g., by
posting for some time - a month? - before the job can be given to non-citizens).
d. Anti-Brain Drain Provisions: Should not encourage "brain draining" (whatever that
means) especially in the health and education fields.
e. The EU Blue Card is valid initially for 3 years with the possibility of 2 year renewals.
Unlike the US green card, the EU Blue card will not penalize extended stays outside of the
EU. This will enable, it is believed, opportunities for Brain Circulation.
f. The EU Blue Card applicant must not be a threat to public policy, security or health.
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Somewhat ambiguous and unresolved in the discussions on the Blue card is
the question of mobility within the EU. It appears at this time that the jobs are
restricted to one particular country, but after a certain period residency is allowed in
other countries. Of course, mobility would be good for Europe as it would
presumably allow skills to move to their most productive uses, and further enable the
Blue card to compete with the US Green card, which can be used in all the states of
the US.
Currently it does not appear that the intent of the law is to enable the Blue card
to be a gateway to citizenship. It appears as if the intent is to maintain the Blue card
as a temporary work permit, although this does not seem to be clear in the language.
It is of interest to note that on the African side, there are usually constraints
and ambiguities in the process for foreigners to attain citizenship. Indeed, many have
remarked that it is actually harder for a European to get citizenship in many African
country than the vice versa.
EU and US competition: The Blues versus the Greens
On the European side, it is clear that the reason for the Blue Card proposals is to attract highly
skilled workers to aid in the European economy. The EU president Jose Manuel Barroso
said4 in support of the Blue Card "We are not good enough at attracting highly-skilled
workers nor are we young enough or numerous enough to keep the wheels of our societies
and economies turning on our own." In another quote, he is also said to have mentioned that
there will be an estimated shortfall of 20 million workers (skilled and unskilled) by 2030.
The EU clearly seeks to compete for the best talent globally. According to German
MEP Ewa Klampt the percentage of highly skilled workers from Third countries (i.e., non-EU
nations) is 1.7% of workforce while it is 9.9% in Australia, 7.3% in Canada, 3.2% in the US
and 5.3% in Switzerland. This new found vigor in the EU has began to raise alarm bells in the
US, where, because of popular responses to the current financial crises there have been
attempts to limit the number of skilled foreigners allowed into the country. Restrictions on
the US skilled workers visa, the H-1B, have been proposed and increased fees introduced to
$3500 from $1500 were discussed (the Grassley/Sanders bill). The EU's Blue Card is clearly
seeking to compete with the US's green card (or, more accurately the H-1B which usually
precedes it). American business leaders have raised the alarm bells that Europe is now
beginning to compete more vigorously for global talent, so the US should make the H1-B visa
application processes much more streamlined. Craig Barrett, the Chairman of Intel, has been
a strident voice in the US on this with opinion pieces in many major US newspapers.
4 As quoted by the EU Oberver
(http://www.europeanunionbluecard.com/?p=10)
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Opportunities for Africa of the EU Blue Card
Given our picture of the state of skill levels, the brain drain and brain circulation in
Africa, what should be the impact of the Blue Card on Africa, and what should the position of
African nations be on this? What will be the marginal impact of the EU Blue Card?
It is unclear whether there will be much of a marginal impact on Africa. This
is for several reasons. First, many African emigrants have first degrees (BA) when
leaving Africa. These degrees are not those which the Blue cards are targeting. The
typical route of emigration of skilled workers in Africa involves Africans getting
schooling abroad. The main channel for an impact on Africans will probably have
to be upon completion of post-graduate degrees. The net effort of this may be small.
For many already are able to find ways of getting jobs within Europe upon completion
of study within EU. The additional impact is unclear.
How well will Sub-Saharan Africans compete with people from other
nationalities? The stereotype of the person getting the Green card is the highly skilled
engineer from India who has completed schooling from one of the famed engineering
schools, the IIT's, after being selected from a competition involving millions of
students. Africa has much fewer of such engineering schools and certainly does not
have the continent-wide competitive institutions. In addition, as noted earlier, there
are relatively small numbers of students being produced in the tertiary education and
post-graduate systems who would be available for the Blue Cards in SUB-SAHARAN
AFRICA. (This is one area where most of Sub-Saharan Africa, the focus of this
work, may differ from the Northern African nations, with more extensive higher
education systems, and South Africa – which has very good higher educational
institutions but which have traditionally be restricted to whites.)
The Anti-Brain Drain Clauses in the proposed Brain Drain legislation are
probably the most interesting and at the same time potentially the most harmful to
sub-Saharan African nations. An area that has been targeted for the anti Brain Drain
clauses is in the area of Health and Education. The presumption is that this is
targeting doctors, nurses and teachers. As we have noted, a strategy for African
countries to increase the skills of its citizens is to increase the brain circulation – this
involves increasing both the outflow and the inflow.
One can imagine the anti-Brain drain clauses with accompanying resources for
enhancing the supply of skills. This could be, for example, via resources for increased
technical schooling in Africa for skills production in combination with a brain drain
for some of the products of these schools and a return of another fraction of those who
initially drained. If legislation can help with the production, draining and return of
skilled Africans, then on net this could be extremely beneficial.
If, on the other hand, attempts are made at restricting the Brain drain only,
without efforts to increase the supply of skills the result could be, paradoxically, a
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worsening of the aggregate numbers of trained health and education workers in the
source Africa nations.
Migration Contracts
The Blue Card process is designed to work, for the most part, on an individual level:
the individual non-EU citizens need to show proof of a job and then will be given an
individual Blue Card. The source country governments are not envisaged to have a
direct role in this process.
Migration contracts typically involve more than one individual and are
agreements made with source country governments. These contracts enable a predetermined
number of nationals from a given source nation to emigrate to a richer
foreign country. These are typically negotiated bilaterally between countries.
A number of such contracts do exist currently and in the past. I am aware of
contracts between Canada and Mauritius and also between Mauritius and some
individual European nations.
The typical contract involves the source country agreeing to screen some of its
citizens to send off to particular programs in the host country. Typically, the
receiving country in addition to receiving the source country’s citizens also transfers
some income to the source country. For example in an initiative between the
Governments of Mauritius and Canada, brokered by the International Organization for
Migration, workers from Mauritius have been recruited to work in agricultural
factories in Canada.5 These were for renewable 3 year contracts.
These contracts are not that dissimilar from what actually goes on in Soccer
today, where the home country or home team is paid some money when an African
soccer player leaves to play for Chelsea, Arsenal or some other European team.
Migration contracts with the EU could provide the resources for major increases
in the production of skilled people in the country. Contracts for the export of doctors
could be combined with massive increases in the output of doctors within the country,
so that on net the process results in higher numbers of doctors that remain within the
country.
Note that this involves the source country using education as an explicit tool for
the brain drain of some of its citizens. What we argue here is that this can be
calibrated appropriately so that it ends up being a net benefit to the source, braindraining,
country.
5 http://www.netnewspublisher.com/mauritius-workers-leave-for-canada-underspecial-
migration-program/
19
Of course some may cringe at this thought when put in this manner. Does this
not sound like the export of people, and feel like something akin to the Slave Trade?
Of course, the answer is that all of this is done with free-will, and presumably those
who decide to leave the country do so because they believe they will be better off
leaving.
Exotic Financial Schemes
An immediate logical extension of the idea of migration contracts is a scheme which
uses the Brain Drain and circulation to run an educational financing scheme where the loans
of graduated students are used to pay for the schooling of the current crop of students. This
particular policy is being fleshed out in a companion paper under preparation for the National
Bureau of Economic Research Africa Project. To the best of my knowledge, such plans are
not under consideration by the European Union, but should be.
As we remarked earlier, the EU is a big contributor to ODA financial assistance
received by African governments. It is possible that financing for education could be a cost
effective use of EU funds, while aiding the EU itself in its looming skills and labor shortages.
Other Ideas
Some have argued for the “Bhagwati” Tax, a tax on all skilled people who have drained from
poor nations and are working in affluent countries. It is called the Bhagwati tax in honor of
Jagdish Bhagwati who wrote extensively about this some 30 years ago. Variants of the
proposal involve the host affluent country collecting taxes from the drained citizen of the
source country and repatriating that back to the home country.
This proposal is today probably not implementable as many of the drained nationals
either are students or have citizenship in the host country. It is also unclear whether this will
result in added transfers to the source countries, or whether it would merely replace some part
of the existing foreign aid flows. For sub-Saharan Africa, the numbers are probably too
small to make this that important.
Another idea that has been floated is to give immigrants Sabbatical leaves every
several years so that they can return to their home countries. The International Organization
for Migration has a number of such plans, as has the World Bank and a few other
international institutions. A large scale program of this sort could have a major impact,
similar to the impact of the Fulbright awards in Academia.
How about the Unskilled?
Most of the European focus on immigration is on skilled migration. As regards
unskilled migrants, the focus has been on keeping them out. Frontex is the European
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Union agency given the task, in coordination with national government Border control
agencies, of protecting the EU borders against illegal migrants.
I have been in conferences where members of the audience have screamed at
me that “Europe if full.” In some sense this is correct. The EU region is contains
some of the most densely populated places on Earth. Further Europe is absorbing
around 2 million migrants a year, mostly unskilled, which is a larger percentage than
US and most parts of the world.6
For African nations, the unskilled leaving Africa relieves some of the
employment pressures locally, and results in remittances which are an important
source of income for relatives who remain in the home countries. Indeed, there are
some studies which seem to suggest that the unskilled remit more than the skilled.
(See Faini (2007)).
Further, unskilled migrants also give African governments some leverage in
asking for economic assistance from European countries. There has been the
occasional threat by an African leader that if European country X does not do Y (say
agree to a trade policy or provide more loans) the country will flood that country X
with its unskilled, or at least be less vigorous in stemming the outflow of illegal
migrants from its borders.
Conclusion
In this paper we have discussed some of the EU policies toward Migration and their impact on
Human Capital formation in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have highlighted the fact that a
principle constraint in human capital formation in Africa is the paucity of the supply, and not
necessary the Brain Drain out of the small stock of skilled labor.
Indeed, it has been pointed out that the possibility of a drain may itself provide an
incentive for the acquisition of skills, which may more than offset the drain and result,
counter-intuitively, in higher remaining stocks of skilled labor in the source or sending nation.
We have not addressed the political issues related to the question of migration, which is
intense on each side. On the European side there are voices saying that jobs should be
reserved for locals and training should be supplied for the young to fill the skills gap. There
have also been calls to avoid bringing into Europe people from different cultural backgrounds.
The extreme right wing in many European countries get most of their support from such
demands.
It should also be mentioned that there are both political and political economy issues
surrounding the debates on the Brain Drain in Africa. Many African governments are worried
6 Brady (2008).
21
about the political leanings of their migrants abroad – often more radical, sometimes
stridently and boldly asking for democracy at home. There has been in many cases resistance
to reintegrating returned migrants, or allowing those outside the country to vote.
The EU is a major aid donor to sub –Saharan Africa. This is, evidently, a sign of caring by
the EU for African nations and, presumably, African nationals. One part of the debate that is
often left out is that by allowing Africans to migrate to Europe that group of Africans usually
see immediate improvements in their economic well-being. In addition to these gains, the
source country also gains as remittances are sent back home. Further, the incentive effect
may cause investments in human capital formation in the home country which could result in
higher levels of human capital in the home country and higher economic development.
One of the messages of this paper is that Migration and policies around migration should
be factored into the general discussions on EU economics assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa.
22
References
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Benhabib, J. and M. Spiegel (2000), “Cross Country Growth Regressions: Are Primitives All
That Matter?” Journal of Economic Growth, 5 , 341-360.
Bhargava, A. and F. Docquier (2007), “A New Panel Data Set On Physicians' Emigration
Rates (1991-2004)”, World Bank.
Brady, H. (2008) “EU migration policy: An A-Z”, Center for European Reform Briefing,
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Clemens, M. and G. Pettersson (2008), “New data on African health professionals
abroad,” Human Resources for Health 6:1.
Clemens, M. (2006), “A first look at the consequences of African health professional
emigration”, in Treasury of Australia and Reserve Bank of Australia, Workshop on
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Challenges and Migration: Sydney, 27-28 August 2005 (Canberra: Commonwealth of
Australia).
Docquier, F. and A. Marfouk (2005), “International Migration By Educational Attainment -
Release 1.1”, World Bank.
Easterly, W. and Y. Nyarko (2009): "Is the Brain Drain Good for Africa?" in "Skilled
Immigration Today: Prospects, Problems, and Policies," edited by J. Bhagwati and G.
Hansen, Oxford University Press.
Faini, R. (2007):”Remittances and the Brain Drain: Do More Skilled Migrants Remit More?”
World Bank Economic Review Advance Access, Washington, D.C.
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