Does the Migration of Health Workers Bring Benefits to the Countries They Leave Behind?

  • Corinne Packer
  • Vivien Runnels
  • Ronald Labonté


Although many people agree that there is something morally troubling in the phenomenon of brain drain, it is also often claimed that the substantial benefits it can bring to source communities may go some way to balance, or even outweigh, its negative consequences. It has been suggested that source countries and remaining family members and communities derive benefits from migrants by way of wealth and knowledge transfers. In this chapter, we examine the empirical details behind the ethical claims. We weigh the two main purported benefits of health human resources (HHR) migration: remittances and the transfer of knowledge, against the losses of knowledge, experience and labour that occur to developing countries. While such benefits do indeed exist, evidence suggests that their impact on source country health systems is indirect, or temporary, and likely to be incommensurate with the permanent losses to source countries.


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© Corinne Packer, Vivien Runnels and Ronald Labonté 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Corinne Packer
  • Vivien Runnels
  • Ronald Labonté

There are no affiliations available

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