Fw: FNS News: The Mounting Cost of Brain Drain
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Sent: Monday, March 09, 2009 11:33 AM
Subject: FNS News: The Mounting Cost of Brain Drain
March 9, 2009
The Mounting Cost of Brain Drain
The continued migration of professionals as well as the lack of investment
in scientific research and technological innovation is bearing a high cost
for Mexico. An estimated 575,000 Mexican professionals currently reside
outside the country of their birth, according to Rodolfo Tuiran, federal
assistant secretary of higher education. Of nearly 600,000 Mexican
professionals abroad, 552,000 live in the United States while 23,000 reside
in Europe, the federal education official said at a Mexico City seminar on
migration and the professional class.
Every year, an estimated 20,000 Mexican professionals leave home to search
for opportunities in other lands. The exodus has grown from an average of
15,000 professionals who left Mexico each year between 1995 and 2000.
Quoted in the Mexican press, Tuiran's numbers do not include professionals
living in Canada, a country which is increasingly attractive for Mexican
The basic, up-front cost of the brain drain to Mexico is an estimated $7
billion just in terms of educational outlays that were spent in training the
present number of professional emigrants, according to Tuiran's
Tuiran's sum, however, does not include costs associated with the loss of
technological know-how and value-added economic potential.
For example, in the state of Michoacan, home of the important Pacific port
of Lazaro Cardenas, the low quality of products results in the loss of
approximately $160 million annually to the state, according to an estimate
given at a recent round-table discussion in Michoacan attended by members of
the academic, business and public sectors.
Pedro Mata Vazquez, president of the Michoacan State Council of Science and
Technology said Mexico has invested between 0.37 and 0.46 percent of its
Gross National Product (GNP) annually in scientific research and
technological development in recent years.
The percentage of GNP invested in future technical capabilities falls below
the average 0.54 percent of GNP invested by other Latin American countries
and the one percent of GNP recommended by international organizations. Forty
percent of Mexican products "have a low technological content and a low
price because they are not value-added," Mata said. Another consequence of
the talent loss and technology gap is Mexico's dependence on foreign
imports, Mara added.
Gathered at the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City (UAM) for
a recent seminar on the brain drain, academic researchers and others
considered the reasons behind a professional exodus that is hindering
Mexico's economic development.
Low salaries, university job shortages, inadequate retirement programs,
underdeveloped research infrastructures, and the lack of reintegration
programs for students studying abroad were identified as factors favoring
even a greater brain drain.
Angel Diaz Barriga, an educational specialist for the National Autonomous
University of Mexico, said Mexican students abroad have little incentive to
return home after completing their studies. Unless Mexico improves
professional salaries, Diaz warned, the country will "mortgage its future"
and not foster a "new generation that replaces the current batch of
An estimated 25,000 Mexican students are presently pursuing studies in
foreign private and public universities. However, grants from the official
National Council for Science and Technology and other organizations pay for
the educations of only 3,000 students abroad.
Magdalena Fresan, rector of UAM's Cuajimalpa campus, said a bigger research
crisis within Mexican universities could emerge within the next decade if
push and pull migration issues were not adequately addressed. Mexican
university researchers currently average 55 years of age, Fresan said.
In the international scheme of things, the brain drain in Mexico and other
developing nations could contribute to even more extreme differences between
countries and regions, said Carmen Garcia Guadilla of the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Sources: La Jornada (Michoacan), March 4, 2009. Article by Erick Alba. La
Jornada (National Edition), March 3 and 4, 2009. Articles by Karina Aviles,
Emir Olivares and Laura Poy.
Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin
American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New
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