November 13, 2014


Émigré Matters : Re-Examining France's Brain Drain (Kunal Mehta, 11/12/14, Columbia Political Review)

Recent statistics calculated by the Maison des Français de l'Etranger, the government branch of the Ministry of External Affairs tasked with maintaining relations with expatriates, have shed some light on the issue of expatriation as a whole. According to these figures, the French diaspora, currently estimated at 2 million people, has been growing at a rate between 3 and 4 percent each year during the past decade, and currently adds 80,000 members to its ranks every year. By comparison, growth in the domestic population over the same period reached only about 0.6 percent per year. Additionally, the data not only indicates that the emigrant community is growing impressively, but also that, for the most part, it has overwhelmingly been composed of highly trained and technically proficient individuals. In contrast with the 12.5 percent of the domestic population holding advanced educational degrees, around half of expatriates possess a master's or doctoral degree and are primarily employed in fields such as research, technology, or entrepreneurship. Those numbers have pointed to France's most eligible graduates leaving home, sparking alarm in the country.

emigrepic2.jpgThe periodic release of figures such as those from the Maison des Français de l'Etranger are accompanied by a splash of articles and reactions across major publications and media outlets such as Le Monde and Le Nouvel Economiste, contemplating the loss of French talent, the emergence of a French "brain drain," and even the existence of a country of emigrants. To add to the media clamor around the subject, a growing number of think tanks, consultancies, and research organizations have also started weighing in on the issue, and offering their own estimates of the problem. This past year, consulting firm Deloitte produced a report claiming that close to 27 percent of recently graduated French students envisioned their futures overseas, while PricewaterhouseCoopers stated that the French emigrant population will most likely swell to double its present size by 2020. Meanwhile, the not-for-profit Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris published its own report estimating that 38 percent of new graduates hope to spend more than ten years of their life outside France.

Posted by at November 13, 2014 5:35 PM

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