By Tanja Goodwin

Earlier this week, we pointed out the new wave of emigration from Portugal to its former colonies. As the number of emigrants has increased, so has the emigrants’ skill level. The new generation of migrants is no longer made up of blue-collar workers, but of teachers, advertisers, engineers and architects. “This amounts to a hemorrhaging of highly educated people—the very people [the euro zone’s weakest economies] will need if they are to take off when circumstances get better,” says Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute in Washington.

The specter of “brain drain” has haunted international organizations and think tanks for decades, threatening that emigration of skilled workers would leave poor countries short of the human capital needed to develop. After much research, this simplistic concept has been largely overthrown. Today, almost everyone recognizes the benefits arising from income gains to the emigrants, greater human capital in the source country, knowledge transfer and remittances. Almost everyone.

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