Is the law responsible for the national-level brain drain?

If we ask a random student about their plans for higher education and future dreams, they will non-hesitantly answer ‘abroad’. The choice of foreign countries for studies, work, and settlement has been so popular nowadays, especially in the context of developing and less developed countries like Nepal that questions need to be posed about where we, as a nation, are particularly lagging in retaining our resources of tomorrow.

What discourages the young generation from prioritising their own country? Is there fair employment legislation? Are entrepreneurship and start-up laws not favourable? Do intellectual property laws play a role? Is there adequate recognition of foreign credentials to bring the students back after their higher studies abroad? Do research and funding laws contribute? Should emigration laws become restrictive? If yes, how can we ensure political and social stability here in our own land?


Problem of Brain Drain 

Brain drain refers to the emigration or migration of skilled and educated individuals from one country, region, organisation, or industry to another, often in search of better opportunities, standards of living, or working conditions. This phenomenon can have significant impacts on the source countries, industries, and organisations that lose these valuable professionals.


Reasons for Brain Drain mostly revolve around:

  1. Economic Opportunities: Many individuals seek better job prospects and higher salaries in more developed countries or regions. Economic disparities can drive professionals to relocate for the promise of better financial rewards.
  2. Higher Standards of Living: Individuals may move to countries where they believe they can enjoy a higher quality of life, including access to better housing, healthcare, education, and overall well-being.
  3. Political Strife and Instability: Countries experiencing political turmoil, conflict, or instability can drive skilled professionals to seek safety and opportunities elsewhere, fearing for their own and their families' security.
  4. Persecution: Discrimination and persecution based on factors like religion, gender, or sexuality can compel individuals to seek refuge in more accepting and tolerant societies.

The departure of skilled professionals from a country or organisation has significant repercussions, as it entails the depletion of valuable knowledge, skills, and expertise. This phenomenon critically impedes the advancement of pivotal sectors like healthcare, science, engineering, and finance. When seasoned experts leave, the intellectual capital they possess is effectively drained from the source entity, leading to a deficiency in specialised competencies. This vacuum can hinder innovation and progress in areas that rely heavily on these skilled individuals, thus impeding the overall development and growth trajectory of the nation or institution.


The departure of professionals who have the potential to earn high incomes can trigger a chain of economic repercussions with far-reaching consequences. The resultant reduction in spending and consumption capacity directly impacts the economy's health. Additionally, the departure of these professionals leads to decreased tax contributions, further straining government revenues. These combined effects culminate in a slowdown of economic growth in the source country. This, in turn, undermines the nation's ability to maintain or enhance its overall economic vitality. Thus, the departure of highly skilled professionals has a multi-faceted economic impact that reverberates across various sectors, ultimately influencing the country's economic stability and prosperity.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine that resulted in a significant brain drain from Ukraine to other European Union (EU) countries is a crucial example of what impacts brain drain can have in a country. According to studies conducted by the European Parliament, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia prompted a massive displacement of the country's population, particularly students. The number of students leaving Ukraine for EU countries, notably Poland, increased substantially over the years. The number of students leaving Ukraine doubled from 25,000 to 50,000 between 2007 and 2014. By 2019, this number had further risen to about 78,000. The conflict's instability, combined with the allure of better educational and employment opportunities in the EU, drove many students to seek refuge and future prospects abroad.


Legal Factors

The interplay of the law and the trend of citizens choosing to move abroad crediting their farsightedness on top of that, may be seen in following fields of national policies:

  1. Migration Policies: Countries with lenient or flexible migration policies that offer easier pathways for skilled professionals to obtain work visas, permanent residency, or citizenship can attract highly skilled individuals from other countries. This can lead to brain drain in countries with more restrictive immigration policies.
  2. Recognition of Foreign Qualifications: If a country has streamlined processes for recognizing foreign qualifications and degrees, it can make it easier for skilled immigrants to find appropriate jobs in their field. Countries with cumbersome or lengthy recognition procedures may discourage skilled professionals from relocating.
  3. Labour Laws and Regulations: Countries with more favourable labour laws and regulations, such as better working conditions, higher wages, and stronger worker protections, may attract skilled individuals looking for better employment opportunities and quality of life.
  4. Taxation Policies: Tax policies can significantly impact the decision of skilled individuals to emigrate. High-income tax rates in their home country may drive them to seek opportunities in countries with lower tax burdens or more favourable tax structures.
  5. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support: Countries that offer supportive legal frameworks for entrepreneurship, innovation, and startups can attract skilled individuals who are looking to create their own businesses or contribute to vibrant innovation ecosystems.
  6. Intellectual Property Rights: Strong protection of intellectual property rights is essential for encouraging innovation and research. Countries with weak intellectual property protection may push researchers, scientists, and innovators to seek countries where their work is better safeguarded.
  7. Academic and Research Environment: Favourable legal conditions for academia and research, such as competitive research funding, academic freedom, and supportive research infrastructure, can attract academics and researchers to countries with thriving knowledge economies.
  8. Political Stability and Rule of Law: Countries with stable political environments and strong rule of law provide a sense of security for skilled individuals and their families. Instability, corruption, and lack of legal protection can push them to seek more stable countries.
  9. Freedom and Human Rights: Countries that uphold fundamental human rights and offer greater personal freedoms may attract skilled individuals who seek a more inclusive and open society.
  10. Healthcare and Social Services: Access to quality healthcare and social services can be a significant factor in the decision to emigrate. Countries with comprehensive and affordable healthcare systems may be more appealing to skilled professionals.


Laws and Policies Abroad 

Foreign countries are not only interested in keeping the human resources of their national origin, their policies show they are just as keen to attract foreign skilled resources and retain them. These tactics seem effective as their pace of development and economic progress have proven.

  1. China - Thousand Talents Plan: The Thousand Talents Plan of China seeks to attract Chinese researchers and scientists who are currently abroad, enticing them with financial rewards, research support, and favourable working environments. In 2008, the Chinese government launched the initiative, specifically focusing on Chinese scientists, scholars, and businesspeople living overseas. This program was extended in 2011 to include younger individuals with potential and foreign scientists, resulting in the participation of more than 7,000 individuals over a ten-year span. Chinese researchers are offered compelling financial incentives to return to China, while international professionals view this as a chance to become part of the Chinese system with minimised bureaucratic hurdles.
  2. Singapore - Employment Pass and Permanent Residency Schemes: Singapore offers Employment Passes and Permanent Residency schemes to simplify the process for skilled professionals to live and work in the country. The government provides various incentives to attract and retain talent, making Singapore an appealing destination.
  3. Germany - Blue Card Program: Germany's Blue Card program enables non-EU citizens with high-level qualifications to live and work in the country, making it an attractive choice for skilled professionals.
  4. Australia - General Skilled Migration (GSM) Program: Australia's GSM program invites skilled workers to seek permanent residency based on their qualifications and occupation. The government regularly updates the list of eligible occupations to align with the nation's skill requirements.
  5. South Korea - Brain Korea 21 Program: South Korea's Brain Korea 21 Program financially supports universities and research institutions to attract and retain talented researchers and academics across various disciplines.
  6. Israel - Innovation Visas: Israel offers specialised visas for foreign entrepreneurs and investors interested in establishing startups or investing in the country's tech sector. These visas pave the way to permanent residency, encouraging foreign involvement in Israel's innovation ecosystem.
  7. India - Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI): India's OCI program permits overseas Indians to maintain specific privileges and connections to the country, including property ownership and business engagement, fostering participation in India's growth.
  8. United Arab Emirates (UAE) - Golden Visa: The UAE's Golden Visa program provides long-term residency to skilled professionals, investors, and their families, making it an attractive choice for those seeking stability and opportunities.
  9. United Kingdom - Innovator Visa: The UK's Innovator Visa caters to experienced entrepreneurs wanting to establish innovative businesses in the country. This visa offers a route to settlement and potential citizenship.



The question of whether the law is responsible for the national-level brain drain is a complex one that involves various factors beyond just legal frameworks. To address the issue of national-level brain drain, legal recommendations should focus on creating an environment that fosters talent retention and encourages diaspora engagement. Firstly, the law should introduce targeted incentives, such as tax breaks or research grants, to attract and retain skilled professionals. Simultaneously, provisions can be established to facilitate knowledge transfer between expatriate professionals and local institutions, promoting collaboration and skill development. Secondly, the law should promote the establishment of networks and platforms connecting expatriate professionals with local opportunities, fostering a sense of belonging and encouraging their involvement in national development projects. By implementing these measures, the legal framework can effectively mitigate brain drain's impact while leveraging the skills and expertise of the diaspora for the country's advancement.



The problem of brain drain can have detrimental effects on the countries and institutions that lose these individuals, both in terms of expertise and economic contributions. The example of Ukraine illustrates how political conflict and instability can drive a significant brain drain, particularly among students and professionals seeking better opportunities abroad. While certain laws and policies can play a role in shaping the environment for skilled individuals, it's essential to recognize that brain drain is often the result of a combination of economic, social, and personal motivations. Legal reforms can certainly contribute to retaining talent by creating favourable conditions, but a holistic approach that addresses broader societal and economic challenges is crucial. As nations strive to strike a balance between individual aspirations and national development, collaboration between policymakers, industries, and the education sector will be vital in finding sustainable solutions to the brain drain phenomenon.