Traditionally the USA and the UK have attracted the most interest from skilled migrants all over the world. This has meant a boost to both those economies as migrants bring their skills and experience with them – offering valuable human assets to their host country. But the US and the UK are no longer the only option as more and more migrants indicate that they would rather settle in Australia and Canada.
A new survey by the World Bank research shows that the world’s highly skilled immigrants are increasingly living in just four nations: the US, UK, Canada and Australia. With the latter two gaining in popularity on the US and UK
Falling transport costs combined with growing competition for talented workers have seen the ranks of highly skilled immigrant workers living in a group of mostly advanced nations (members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) swell 130% to 28 million over the two decades to 2010, with the number from non-OECD (typically poorer) countries surging 185% to 17.6 million.
The rise has come despite a dramatic fall in the cost of communication, suggesting the salience of other factors such as wage and cultural differences, the demands of multinational companies or the appeal of living close to other talented workers.
“The weight of the evidence points to high-skilled immigrants boosting innovation and productivity—mainly through the increased quantity of skilled individuals pursuing innovative work,” the authors said.
“The high-skilled members of the next generation appear to be less tied to any particular location or national identity, but instead have mentalities and connections that are much more global in nature,” they added.
It’s not clear whether these trends will continue. Rising standards of living in developing countries will curb the appeal of emigrating, but the “agglomeration benefits” of having talented individuals located in particular geographic locations look set to remain.
In the meantime, governments will attempt to control the flow, typically employing a points-based system such as Australia and Canada use, permitting entry of workers based on their particular skills and backgrounds, or a decentralized system that lets employers pick which workers they want to sponsor.