Causes and Consequences of Highly-Skilled Migrants in the Labor Market. An Epilog.

Highly skilled migration and the international mobility of talent is a major issue in a globalized world. It has important implications for source and destination countries. Most studies in the literature focus on the economic evaluation of gains and losses due to the brain drain (human capital emigration) from developing to developed countries. However, recent research has increasingly emphasized alternative strands of the literature.

One of them is the phenomenon of brain waste according to which migrant workers underutilize their education and skills in the host labor market. This in turn relates to the issue of whether migration constitutes a way to achieve intergenerational social mobility. Another topic of interest refers to the host labor market effects of immigration. While the majority of this literature focuses on immigrants of all skills, a few studies emphasize the impact of the highly skilled immigrants on wages or employment of natives. In parallel, a growing number of studies have stressed the role of skilled migration in generating benefits for destination countries. Finally, a new trend in the literature analyzes the effects of high-skilled immigration taking the perspective of firms.

The aim of the workshop was to strengthen emerging and innovative research on the highly skilled migration. Another objective was to gather researchers – economists, demographers and sociologists – specialized in the topic at hand to foster discussions and ideas exchange. What is more, the workshop enabled the applicants not only to benefit from the concentrated knowledge on the economics and sociology of high-skilled migration but also to widen and consolidate their network with peer researchers at different stages of their career.

The workshop included twelve presentations and a public lecture on the role of university fees in attracting foreign students given by Michel Beine (University of Luxembourg), a well-established expert in the economics of migration. Four local research teams were in charge of the organization: “Mapping the Demographics of the New Forms of Mobility and Measuring Their Socioeconomic Impact”, “ Labor Market Effects and the Political Economy of “New” Migration to Switzerland”, and “ Discrimination as an Obstacle to Social Cohesion” of the nccr – on the move as well as “Education and Employment” of NCCR LIVES.

The first panel chaired by Marco Pecoraro and Philippe Wanner (both nccr – on the move) focused on the labor mobility of the highly skilled migrants from an economic point of view. The second panel chaired by Julie Falcon (NCCR LIVES) addressed the issue of the impact of migration on intergenerational social mobility. The four presentations discussed both theoretical and methodological aspects, including issues of migrants selectivity and neighborhood effects and differences according to country of origin with empirical assessments in several European nations – namely France, Spain and UK. The last panel chaired by Andrea Ariu and Tobias Müller (both nccr – on the move) analyzed the migration phenomenon taking into account the role of firms as focus of analysis.

Marco Pecoraro, nccr – on the move, PostDoc in the project “Discrimination as an Obstacle to Social Cohesion”