Education premiums and skilled migration: Lessons for an educational policy

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Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between skills prices (wage premiums) and inequality in migrant sending countries (mainly from Latin America) and explores the implications for education policies. Most of the evidence is based on the case of Mexico, a Latin American country that is also an Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD) member. Despite the belief that Latin American countries tend to pay less for their skilled workers than developed countries, they invest a considerable amount of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in education and sometimes in scholarships abroad. Therefore, our main question is: Are skill prices really so proportionately low in Latin America?  Likewise, what are the impacts of skills prices on migration in Latin America, and Mexico in particular? And, what is the importance of “brain drain” in terms of the relationship between migration and education? We find that despite the enormous inequality in the region, skills prices are not low. Furthermore, high expenditures on education combined with low skills prices do not necessarily result in brain drain. Other factors, such as perceptions of insecurity and corruption, have a stronger effect on the migration of Mexican professionals. Likewise, although high skills prices may lead to economic development, they may also increase social inequality, leading to greater brain drain. Therefore, the expansion of higher education is recommendable even if it reduces salaries and wage premiums in the short term.

 

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How to Cite
Tigau, C., & Bolaños Guerra, B. (2015). Education premiums and skilled migration: Lessons for an educational policy. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23, 104. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v23.1845
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Author Biographies

Camelia Tigau, Center for Research on North America, National Autonomous University of Mexico

Professor Tigau received her doctorate in political and social sciences (2007) and her master’s in communications (2004) from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).  She is a Researcher at the Center for Research on North America, National Autonomous University of Mexico, and the author of two books: Riesgos de la fuga de cerebros en México: construcción mediática, posturas gubernamentales y expectativas de los migrantes (Risks of Brain Drain in Mexico: media construcion, governmental positions and migrants´ expectations. México: CISAN-UNAM, 2013); Diplomacia en la era digital. La ayuda alimentaria como maniobra neoliberal (Diplomacy in the Digital Era. Food Aid as a Neoliberal Manoeuver) (Mexico City: CISAN-UNAM/Cenzontle, 2009).

Bernardo Bolaños Guerra, Department of Humanities at Metropolitan Autonomous University, Mexico City

Professor Bolaños Guerra received a law degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and a PhD in philosophy from the University of Paris 1 (Pantheon-Sorbonne). He is a Professor-Researchre in the Department of Humanities at Metropolitan Autonomous University, Mexico City and the author of the following books: The right to education (1996), Brief introduction to the thought of Blaise Pascal (2007) and Slaves, immigrants and drug traffickers. Biopolitics in North America (2013).