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Thailand and brain drain

Keywords: brain drain , brain gain , migration , manpower planning , science policy

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Brain drain has been the subject of research since the 1960s. This research has been hampered by a lack of accurate data from both source and receiving countries on migration and on the losses and gains to developing economies of skilled migration. However, despite these handicaps, research has been able to clearly show that trends are changing and the effect this is having is usually quite different for individual source countries.Thailand, as a developing economy, could be regarded as a source country. Fortunately, Thailand has never ranked highly in terms of brain drain when compared to other states in Asia and while it may not be a significant problem it nonetheless needs to be monitored. Thailand is also somewhat unique in that the migration that has occurred has been almost equally split between secondary and tertiary educated Thais. Thailand also ranks low in terms of tertiary educated population who have migrated when compared to other countries in the region. Globalisation is having a profound effect on the migration of skilled workers. As trade becomes increasingly free, barriers to the movement of services or people are also freed. As the better educated are encouraged to think globally, so too will they be inclined to move globally into the world community.This paper examines Thailand’s position with respect to brain drain, some of the lessons we have learned and some of the steps that are being taken to minimise the impact of the loss of skilled workers, with a particular focus on science and technology. The conclusion is that brain drain should not be viewed as an entirely negative development and that the positive outcomes should be recognised, encouraged and incorporated into policy.


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