The economic cost of Zimbabwe’s brain drain

Brain drain is the emigration of highly trained people from a particular country into another country where they are able to find better opportunities.

These individuals are educated in their native countries but generally seek work in foreign nations as they find it more desirable, either because of higher living standards, better wages, or both.

Brain drain mostly affects skilled human resources for trade, education and trained health professionals.

Once educated, these professionals feel they can live a better life elsewhere.

This emigration can make it difficult for a country to maintain a high intellectual standard, as many of its educated and most intelligent people leave.

While talented people should not be burdened by a country’s limitations or boundaries, educated people are key to creating a more educated and professional society.

Brain drain can have a negative impact on the sending country such as reduction of human capital, limited capacity to innovate, reduced economic growth, demographic shifts and a higher cost of public goods.

The main reason for leaving a country is normally cited as the high rate of unemployment within that country.

The Labour Market Diagnostic Analysis Report indicated that the majority of emigrants mentioned lack of employment opportunities as the number one motive for leaving the country.

Zimbabwe is plagued by lack of economic opportunities emanating from a failure to adhere to the rule of law and the non-creation of a secure environment for domestic and foreign investment.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) revealed that in 2020, 580 000 youth fled Zimbabwe for greener pastures.

Development requires an engaged citizenry that drives social, political and economic reform through participation.

The inclusion of women in political, economic and social activities is instrumental for development and achieving gender equality as women and young workers are four times more likely to be inactive than men and adult workers.

Therefore, it is important to fast-track gender mainstreaming through youth and women affirmative action into positions of influence by advancing political representation.

Increasing living standards and promoting economic and social development in Zimbabwe requires improving employment opportunities.

 Nurse aid and health care training and working opportunities in the United Kingdom have been on the rise and this has resulted in increased numbers of emigration.

The impact of this brain drain on developing countries such as Zimbabwe has a negative effect on the economy but also on larger and more developed countries.

Even though there are some positive effects of brain drain, such as bringing talented people into a growing atmosphere and promoting globalization, on the whole, there are more negative effects on both the country where the brain drain is happening and the economies of the countries to which skilled professionals emigrate.

Brain drain causes developing countries to lose the ability to progress.

Another negative impact is that countries develop slower once they lose their talented and skilful citizens.

Where developing countries lose their talent, developed countries end up gaining it and having an overabundance of skilled workers trying to enter the workforce and fewer available jobs.

Developing countries might also suffer from economic loss, which reduces their development even further and their production of more talented people.

As shown in the figure below, the top three main reasons why people choose to leave their country are: career prospects, social injustice, and compensation, with career prospects being the highest percentage with 66%

Zimbabwe must mitigate brain drain and its negative economic effects.

The government must look inward and discover why citizens are leaving.

The government must mitigate or eliminate the factors causing dissatisfaction by providing an enabling environment for citizens to thrive and lead healthy and happy lives through a decent standard of living.

It remains important for Zimbabwe to recognize and keep talent, not through limiting freedom, but granting better opportunities for individuals to thrive.

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