World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Human Capital Transfer (010) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: MON 19, 2.30-4.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: Chair: Shahrzad Kamyab (Independant scholar-International Education Consultant)

Paper presenter: Professor F. Ershad (Shahid Chamran University, Iran), “An Out-look On Brain-Drain As a Continuous Migratory Process in Iran”
Since the 1950s up to now, Iran's population has been faced with some considerable changes. These changes have been realized in relation to a number of socio-economic factors, such as unequal life and work conditions between rural and urban areas. Continuous rural-to urban migration through the previous decades at least, since the mid-20th century- is one of the strongest features of this population change. It seems clear that migration in Iran, like many other societies, would be explainable by combined factors of socio-economic inequalities and migration selectivity variables. In short, those who enjoy from a relatively higher human capital in mussel and/or brain abilities- have more space-autonomy for relocation and selection for more desirable residential places. A strong incentive for those migratory groups is to enjoy from the consequences of social mobility to compensate their relative depression or unequal life conditions. Meanwhile, by referring to selective studies, it was demonstrated and documented that Iran is an important case of international migration, especially brain-drain movement. But, as the rural areas bear a strong loss from out-migration, the country experiences a higher loss from brain-drain. Briefly, it seems that there are not important categorical differences between internal and external migration. In other words, it may be claimed that based on the inequalities and migration selectivity approach, the nature of internal migration, mainly rural-to-urban exodus within Iran (and at least in some other Middle Eastern countries), and international migration, especially brain-drain, should be categorized as the same kind, or saying in a structural view, they are different types or phases through a common continuum. Therefore, these disadvantaging moves are not unexpected and unpredictable, so it is not very difficult to intervene or tackle with it, if not prevented.

Paper presenter: Rasha Istaiteyeh (Junior Researcher-Department of Development Economics, Migration and Agricultural Policy, University of Kassel, Germany), “Integrating Scientific Knowledge through Circular Migration: The Case of Jordan”
Jordan is an Islamic, Middle Eastern country, located in what nearly most of Christians, Jews and Muslims consider as the Holy Land. Its staunch constitutional monarchy during the last thirty years has maintained continuous stability, moderation and security situation in a region prone to potential volatility. Student mobility is a particular type of migration and graduate students decisions concerning either returning home or remaining in the host country or relocating to a third country, are related to the arguments of brain drain, drain gain and/or brain circulation. Jordan has supported its human capital circular migration through government policies, that is, through sending Jordanian graduate students abroad to achieve their PhDs, where eventually many of them return back to Jordan to serve into different Jordanian universities. Hence, Jordan managed in building strong reputation of Jordanian universities among Arab countries in the Middle East region. Consequently, a regional demand on Jordanian higher education services started to appear in the 1990s and afterwards, especially from Arabic neighbouring countries like: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, West Bank and others. Rather for some Arabic international students the political unrest situations in some countries in the world lead to uncertain environments’ for common top destination countries. Therefore, identifying the pulling factors behind choosing Jordan by them is questionable. A survey among academic staff at Jordanian universities detecting reasons for retuning back to Jordan was explored, and another survey among international students at Jordanian universities was preformed to highlight the reasons for choosing Jordan as a destination country. Finally, a regression analysis was computed to test the relationship between international students’ enrolment and academic staff educational backgrounds in terms of their human capital acquisition. Preliminary results indicate that political, social and familial factors are responsible for Jordanians students retuning home, and the same determinants apply to international students’ choice of Jordan. Hence, Jordan managed in turning circular migration of its graduate students into benefits, through upgrading the skills of Jordanian graduates- while abroad, and in attracting international students, whom in the end will either stay in Jordan, or migrate again to log into other labour markets, depending on economic opportunities in occupations which they majored in.

Paper presenter: Shahrzad Kamyab (Independant scholar-International Education Consultant), “Massive brain drain: A challenge facing Iran today”
Today, Iran suffers a major loss of intellectuals, scientists, medical doctors, and academic elites. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which surveyed 91 countries, Iran has the highest rate of brain drain in the world: every year, 150,000 educated Iranians leave their home country to pursue better opportunities abroad. Iranian experts put the economic loss of brain drain at some $50 billion a year or higher, making the exodus of an inventor or scientist comparable in local terms to the eradication of 10 oil wells. The desire among Iran's elites to seek higher education degrees abroad goes back to the early 19th century, but the phenomenon of brain drain is a contemporary one. The main purpose of leaving the home country in those days was to attend foreign universities in Europe, Especially in France, and Germany, to acquire expertise in the fields of engineering, medicine and military sciences that would be applied at home. Even then, fascination with Western culture or intermarriage motivated some Iranian students to remain abroad, but the majority of students-especially those on government scholarships which often stipulated that the expertise acquired abroad be applied at home- returned to Iran after their studies ended. In this paper, the factors that have contributed to the current unprecedented outflow of human capital from Iran will be discussed. Those factors are: Unemployment/Underemployment, Universities' intellectual atmosphere, stringent university entrance examinations (Concours), and the attractiveness of work opportunities abroad. In the end a reform policy option will be discussed.

Paper presenter: Beatrice Knerr (Professor-University of Kassel), “(Return) Migration of Turkish citizens from Germany to Turkey”
At the beginning of the 21st century, questions about the role of returned migrants for their home country’s economic development are high on the agenda of governments and development institutions. In particular in contexts where migrants stem from economically less developed countries and have worked in more industrialized ones their return is brought together with a inflow of valuable knowledge and skills which might benefit their home country, even more so as these migrants in addition often dispose over considerable amounts of capital accumulated while abroad, resp. sent back as remittances. Turkey is a prominent case where questions about the benefits of return migration are pertinent, and returnees play an increasingly important role in the economy of many communities. Many of them bring considerable savings with them and most have up-graded their skills and professional experiences while abroad. Still, it is often difficult for them to find employment. Opening an own business is an option which is frequently considered. At the same time it is often considered as a disadvantage of the return that remittances discontinue. As the vast majority of Turkey’s international migrants have chosen Germany as their host country (in 2007 there were more than two million Turkish citizens in Germany which is more than half of all Turkish migrants), and usually stay there for many years or even decades (73.5% are living in Germany for 10 years and more, and 35% of the Turkish citizens in Germany are born there as revealed by the micro census of the German Statistical Office), returnees from Germany are in the focus. In fact, it is observed that not only first generation migrants move from Germany to Turkey, but also second generation ones, i.e. a significant number of those who hold a Turkish passport but were born in Germany. In 2006, 33,229 persons left Germany for Turkey (5.6% of all emigrants). In 2000 1,279,000 persons living in Turkey were born abroad, and 274,000 of them were ethnic Turks born in Germany. More than 2.5 mio Turkish citizens who have lived, worked and/or studied in Germany have returned or gone to Turkey (until 2007).At the same time, since the late 1990s, a sharp decline in-migration of Turkish citizens into Germany can be observed, and since 2006 net migration is even negative as more Turkish are leaving Germany than are coming. Partly, this is appreciated by the German public and policy makers because of increasing unemployment in the country (More than 25 % of the Turkish labour force in Germany is registered as unemployed and more than one-third of the Turkish citizens in Germany are living below the poverty line). However, this view might by short-sighted, because although the educational level especially of young Turks in Germany is significantly below average, and their rate of unemployment is particularly high, this might not apply to those who leave. In fact, there are hints pointing to the contrary. So, for example, a recent survey shows that 36 % of the young academics with Turkish roots in Germany see their future in Turkey. In spite of the growing importance of return migration in Turkey, hardly any research has been done about this phenomenon and its consequences, and factual information is scattered and sketchy. As a contribution to filling this gap the presentation will first give a systematic review over the available information; and second, based on empirical data and using a cost-benefit approach, assess the value of human capital (i.e. knowledge and skills) which is transferred from Germany to Turkey.