Don’t ban the “brain drain” from the Philippines

Paolo Abarcar calls for reason with respect to a new rule requiring graduates of the University of the Philippines who study health-related fields to stay in the country for 2-5 years. He summarizes the most salient fact about the “brain drain” in the Philippines thusly:

1. Contrary to what people think, we have an oversupply of nurses. Here’s a link to an old blog post of mine to elaborate. Viewers of TV Patrol will know this: there was a recent feature on nurses actually needing to pay hospitals to employ them, to give them training because there are just too just many of them. Can you imagine that? UP’s policy of preventing health workers from migrating abroad will only exacerbate this oversupply.

Michigan’s own Caroline Theoharides and Dean Yang (along with David McKenzie at the World Bank) are doing research on exactly this topic. One of the highlights of Caroline’s talk was actually part of the background section. They explained that the oversupply of nurses in the Philippines is no accident, but rather due to purposeful choices by Filipinos who get trained as nurses in order to work abroad. (Their results are also cool – they show how migrant flows respond to business cycles in potential destination countries.)


About Jason Kerwin
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