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Brain Drain: Small Islands and Sub-Saharan Africa Hit Hardest By Human Displacement

Half of the 10 countries hit hardest by the outflow of skilled and educated people last year were small island developing states, according to fDi’s analysis of data for 179 countries.


In 2022, the Polynesian island of Samoa was the most-impacted nation, with the highest possible ‘human capital and brain drain’ indicator score of 10 in the latest Fragile States Index, as compiled by non-profit The Fund for Peace. It was followed by Jamaica (9.1), Palestine (8.8) and Micronesia (8.7). Brain drain, which refers to large numbers of educated or professional people moving to live and work abroad, can weigh heavily on a country’s development prospects.


Nate Haken, vice president of research and innovation at The Fund for Peace, says that in many island nations those who have the resources and are highly educated, such as entrepreneurs, physicians and academics, often emigrate to pursue opportunities abroad.

“When you start to have a drain of these critical actors in a country, it can ultimately lead to a gap in human capital and capacity. This makes it harder to manage the economy, innovate, respond and govern,” he explains.



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