Journal Article

Global patterns of migration of scholars with economic development

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 120:4, e2217937120 (2023)
Open Access


We leverage metadata on over 36 million journal articles and reviews indexed by Scopus in order to estimate migration of scholars based on information on changes in their institutional affiliations over time. We produce a database of yearly international migration flows of scholars, for all countries from 1998 to 2017. We use the open-access database to provide descriptive evidence on the relationship between economic development and the emigration propensity of scholars. Statistical analysis using generalized additive mixed models reveals that emigration rates initially decrease as GDP per capita increases. Then, starting from around 25,000 dollars (2017 constant international dollars at purchasing power parity), the trend reverses and emigration propensity increases as countries get richer. This U-shaped pattern contrasts with what has been found in the literature for emigration rates for the general population and calls for theoretical frameworks to understand the heterogeneous responses of migration to development.

Keywords: World, economic development
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.