Rethinking the brain drain in the Philippines

Posted in conference 


Virginia A. Miralao


It was in the mid-1960s that brain drain came to be regarded as costly for the Philippines. Itwas seen to be draining human resources at a critical stage in the country’s development, and wasting precious public investment in education and in citizens’ skills formation. Butevidence on the brain drain shows that it was less important, and for the social sciences inparticular, than the public’s perception of the phenomenon might suggest.


Concerns about the brain drain in the Philippines grew from the mid-1960s under the joint impact of new immigration policies in countries such as the USA, Canada and Australia, which opened their doors to highly skilled immigrants, and the imposition of martial law in the Philippines in 1972. The term ‘Philippine diaspora’ is used to describe the resulting out?ow, estimated to stand presently at 8 to 9 million workers (or some 10 percent of the overall population) spread across more than 190 countries on all the continents.


To conclude: contrary to the earlier talk of the Philippines’ brain drain losses due to emigration, there is increasing reference today to the country’s ‘diasporic dividends’, from remittances as well as from brain drain and gains. However, attempts to analyse and understand the evolving nature and consequences of Philippine social scientists’ overseas migration are hampered by a lack of data. Filipino social scientists can lend their expertise to efforts to improve the country’s migration databases and to research the many different impacts that the migration of highly skilled scientists, and speci?cally social scientists, have on research and development.