The Human Flight and Brain Drain Indicator considers the economic impact of human displacement (for economic or political reasons) and the consequences this may have on a country’s development. On the one hand, this may involve the voluntary emigration of the middle class – particularly economically productive segments of the population, such as entrepreneurs, or skilled workers such as physicians – due to economic deterioration in their home country and the hope of better opportunities farther afield. On the other hand, it may involve the forced displacement of professionals or intellectuals who are fleeing their country due to actual or feared persecution or repression, and specifically the economic impact that displacement may wreak on an economy through the loss of productive, skilled professional labor.

Questions to consider may include*:

Retention of Technical and Intellectual Capital

  • Professional Flight: Are professionals leaving the country?
  • Political Drain or Return: Are politicians leaving the country?
  • Brain Drain: Is there a relatively high proportion of higher educated people leaving the country?
  • Return of Middle Class: Is the middle class beginning to return to the country?


  • Remittances: Are there a large amount of remittances coming to families from relatives overseas?


* Indicator descriptions are not exhaustive, and are intended only as an entry point for further interpretive analysis by the user.