Quantifying the Malaysian Brain Drain and an Investigation of its Key Determinants


  • Gregory Foo Harvard University


Brain drain, determinants, Malaysia, skilled migration


The emigration of highly-skilled workers, more commonly known as the brain drain, has received substantial media coverage in Malaysia. The debate tends to focus on emigration numbers and the eventual effects of skilled migration on the Malaysian economy. There has, however, been no specific dataset developed on the stocks and flows of Malaysian-born migrants. Therefore this paper presents an estimate of the stocks and flows of Malaysian-born migrants in the world. This research also explores the key determinants of high-skilled migration specific to Malaysia, and finds that high income levels in destination countries, livability and religious diversity, proximity (shorter distances), and the English language are associated with higher emigration rates.


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Author Biography

Gregory Foo, Harvard University

John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University