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The Brain Drain

published 01.12.20 - read our introductory piece here

Featuring a series of essays, written by students from across the world. Each essay tackles the phenomenon known as 'brain drain' from a unique perspective, the author analysing and reflecting on it from within their own geographic context.

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Introduction to Issue One: Brain Drain

Our deputy editor, Karim, introduces the topic for our first issue...

With no easy answers in sight, as this issue’s universality becomes increasingly apparent, the brain drain deserves the attention of anyone interested in the future of global development.

In often contentious debates about immigration, the issue of the brain drain can easily fade into the distance as more openly provocative issues come to the fore: overcrowding, cultural dilution, strained resources and xenophobia. In an increasingly globalized world, however, the threat of mass emigration from one’s nation, often driven by market incentives of better employment elsewhere, is a threat to developed and developing countries alike. As a young person living in Britain, the last few years of unbearably protracted Brexit drama have forced me to reckon with this issue personally, as dire predictions of imminent economic self-destruction saturate news coverage. Though the massive recession forced upon us by Covid has slightly complicated the global economic picture, as with so many nations facing recession the British situation is hard to perceive as uniquely precarious, it is hardly likely that the record numbers of Brits seeking EU citizenship will have been encouraged to stay by the government’s disastrous handling of the virus.[1] Nevertheless, with the EU’s record of dealing with economic hardship, especially with regards to the austerity they forced upon Greece,[2] leaving a lot wanting in the way of humanity, the ambivalent austerity of Rishi Sunak’s recent spending review might seem positively munificent.[3] With no easy answers in sight, as this issue’s universality becomes increasingly apparent, the brain drain deserves the attention of anyone interested in the future of global development.

Our pieces go beyond the narrow strictures of economic determinism in explicating the finer cultural and social issues that have led to a brain drain in many nations.

Recognising the multi-faceted complexities of this phenomenon, I am happy to say that our pieces for this issue pay testament to this in their diversity and originality. A common theme that runs throughout this issue, however, is the way in which one’s home country’s lack of socio-economic and political development disincentivizes those who leave, for better opportunities, from returning. Nations affected by high levels of emigration are thus doubly punished: by their educated citizens depressing the economy by emigrating and then by said citizens refusing to return to their home nations because of their socio-economic deprivation. Though this economic bind is certainly significant, our pieces go beyond the narrow strictures of economic determinism in explicating the finer cultural and social issues that have led to a brain drain in many nations. Alberto and Nick’s pieces both take note of the socio-political issues, particularly with regards to culture, that have retarded the development of their respective home nations (Italy and the Bahamas). Whilst developmental agendas rooted in a reliance upon market forces may seem abstracted from humanity and human agency, these subtler explanations leave room for optimism in the changing of hearts and minds.


Looking beyond the issues affecting individual nations, Lucia and Isis’s pieces set their specific analyses within a global geo-political framework in an interesting effort to put personal stories within their widest political contexts. This liberates the texts from attempts to pin down blame on specific governments or people, as responsible for developmental successes or failures, by considering individual choices in tandem with broad historical trends. Not forgetting the importance of the domestic, Anna’s piece considers Britain’s North-South brain drain in the light of her personal experience. Cultural factors, economic incentives and political formations are all given their due, in a sophisticated analysis of this phenomenon as a personal and political problem.


We are excited to share with you all of the above and hope you enjoy Panoramic’s first ever issue!

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/02/brexit-fuels-brain-drain-as-skilled-britons-head- to-the-eu

[2] http://www.tuaeu.co.uk/eu-demands-more-austerity-in-greece/

[3] https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/rishi-sunak-austerity-budget-coronavirus-government-b1761842.html