Prior to the 1990s, migration across Central and Eastern
Europe was limited and controlled, and East – West migration became a wide phenomenon
began simultaneously with the fall of the Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain in 1989.
(Okolski, M. 2004) Today, we see a major migration all around Europe, mainly
due to the fact that borders are virtually inexistent and the circulation of
people is easier than ever. Black et.al. (2010) stresses the importance that
the European Union has had on the increase in migration flows, mentioning that
the countries that sent the highest number of migrants into Western Europe were
Bulgaria, Romania and Poland. To understand how the European Union influenced
migration, it is important to mention that the 2004 enlargement of the EU
brought 10 new member states into the European Union: Cyprus, The Czech
Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta and
Poland. However, the old member states expressed their concern with mass
migration from these new member states towards the old ones. As a consequence,
each member of the old EU-15 created some transitional restrictions on all the
new members, excepting Cyprus and Malta. These restrictions were made to remain
in place until May 2011. However, the movement of people was still unrestricted
within EU-15, including Malta, as well as within the new member states. When,
in 2007, another enlargement of the European Union took place, with two new
member states (Bulgaria and Romania), work restrictions were placed upon these
countries as well, planned to remain in place until January 2014. Regardless,
most of the restrictions for the states that entered the EU in 2004 were
dropped by 2008 (except for Germany and Austria) (EU Observer). Romania and
Bulgaria were also freed from restrictions by most countries by 2012, and as of
2014, there are no more work or transitional restrictions within the EU. With each
restriction lifted, migration was facilitated. Migration trends may be categorized
by reason into four main groups: economic migration (moving to find work or
follow a particular career path), social migration (moving somewhere for a
better quality of life or to be closer to family or friends), political
migration (moving to escape political persecution or war) and environmental
migration (due to natural disasters). According to Docquier, F. (2014) “Poverty
and a lack of economic growth, going hand in hand with discrimination,
political repression, and a lack of freedom, motivate people to flee their
country. The largest emigration rates are observed in middle-income countries,
where incentives to leave are important and liquidity constraints (on travel)
are not severe. As for the selection bias, economic and institutional development
are the major determinants since positive selection increases with poverty.
Overall, the largest brain drain rates are observed in small and poor
countries”For
the purpose of understanding the phenomenon of brain drain, we will take into
account all these reasons, but focus on highly-skilled and well-educated
migrants. In order to do so, we must first define what a high-skilled and
well-educated person is. Most studies simply classify a high-skilled migrant as
someone with a tertiary level education living in a country other than his or
her place of birth because that is how most of the available cross-country data
are compiled and disseminated (Docquier and Rapoport 2012) (Kone and Özden,
2017)

Since 2000, the highest increases in
emigration rates have been recorded by European countries. The emigration rates
to OECD countries increased significantly for Albania (+9.1 percentage points),
Romania (+8.3 percentage points), the Republic of Moldova (+6.3 percentage
points), Bulgaria (+4.6 percentage points) and Lithuania (+4.5 percentage
points). Ecuador was the non-European country recording the highest increase
(+4.5 percentage points between 2000/01 and 2010/11). For virtually all
countries of origin, the emigration rate of the highly-skilled exceeds the
total emigration rate reflecting the selectivity of migration by educational
attainment. (Source: OECD)

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