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Scientific diasporas as development partners

Skilled migrants from Colombia, India and South Africa in Switzerland: empirical evidence and policy responses- Preface by Jean-Baptiste Meyer

Edited By Gabriela Tejada Guerrero and Jean-Claude Bolay

Over the last two decades, globalisation has accelerated international migration flows, particularly of skilled labour. Yet increasing migration by skilled workers from developing countries («brain drain») has raised serious concerns internationally about the adverse development impact on their countries of origin. This book, however, highlights the positive aspects of skilled labour migration as scientific diasporas are playing a growing role in the transfer of technology, skills and knowledge («brain gain») to their home countries. This is a very significant development in a globalised world where science, technology and knowledge can trigger economic and social transformations. The book presents solid empirical evidence of the contributions scientific diasporas make to their countries of origin, based on primary surveys of skilled migrants from Colombia, India and South Africa employed in Switzerland, a major destination country. The findings lead to a better understanding of the motives for migration, the profile of the scientific diaspora communities in Switzerland, and the varied ways in which they help their home countries. The book makes a significant contribution to the international policy debate and dialogue on migration and development. In particular, it shows how to leverage the potential of scientific diasporas as agents of home country development, by identifying good practices and offering specific recommendations for the countries of origin and of destination.


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Chapter 4 Highly Skilled Migrants in the Swiss Labour Market, with a Special Focus on Migrants from Developing Countries by Marco PECORARO and Rosita FIBBI 179


Chapter 4 Highly Skilled Migrants in the Swiss Labour Market, with a Special Focus on Migrants from Developing Countries Marco PECORARO1 with the collaboration of Rosita FIBBI 1. Introduction After the Second World War, many industrialized countries – including Switzer- land – resorted to procyclical exploitation of foreign workers, who were essen- tially low-skilled. The practice of such an immigration policy was initially used to satisfy the excessive internal labour demand during an economic boom, thereby sustaining growth (Salt et al., 2004). The determinants of economic growth have changed progressively since the oil crisis of the 1970s. According to the new growth theory, human capital2 is one of the necessary bases for economic growth (Lucas, 1988). Indeed, the gross domestic expenditure on research and development (R & D) increased significantly during the 1990s and the field of science and technology (referred to as S & T hereafter)3 grew considerably in the majority of developed coun- tries, including Switzerland (Pastor, 2000). Moreover, the relative labour de- mand for highly skilled workers has increased at the expense of the less skilled, which is more commonly referred to as skill bias technological change. At the same time, we have observed an increase in the relative total labour supply of qualified workers. Accordingly, the nature of migration flows, which was mainly characterized by a low-skilled labour force, has evolved in favour of highly skilled labour (Pecoraro, 2005). 1 Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. 2 The human capital indicates any form...

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