Aid for Health, Economic Growth, and the Emigration of Medical Workers

39 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2021

See all articles by Mauro Lanati

Mauro Lanati

European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS)

Rainer Thiele

Kiel Institute for the World Economy

Date Written: December 2020

Abstract

Debates on the extent to which developing countries suffer from a brain drain often focus on the emigration of locally scarce health personnel. In this paper, we empirically examine how two potential determinants - aid for health and local income levels - affect the emigration rates of doctors and nurses from developing countries. Employing a standard gravity model of international migration, we show that aid for health has a negative effect on the emigration of both nurses and doctors. The quantitative impact is moderate but non-negligible: doubling the amount of foreign assistance received by developing countries in the health sector lowers the emigration rates of health personnel by around 10%. Our findings suggest that donors influence the emigration decisions of doctors and nurses through improvements in health infrastructure and health care services. Higher income per capita is also associated with lower emigration from developing countries for doctors and nurses alike. Given that nurses typically belong to the poorer segments of populations in the countries of origin, we can conclude that even at low initial income levels, on balance, economic growth provides an incentive to stay rather than enabling would-be migrants to finance migration costs and encouraging them to leave.

Keywords: Aid; Migration; Health Personnel; Development

JEL Classification: F22; F35; O15

Suggested Citation

Lanati, Mauro and Thiele, Rainer, Aid for Health, Economic Growth, and the Emigration of Medical Workers (December 2020). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2020/104, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3763947 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3763947

Mauro Lanati (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) ( email )

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Rainer Thiele

Kiel Institute for the World Economy ( email )

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