March 2005

IZA DP No. 1516: Regionalism in West Africa: Do Polar Countries Reap the Benefits? A Role for Migration

published in: Natalia Dinello and Ernest Aryeetey (eds.), Testing Global Interdependence: Issues on Trade, Aid, Migration and Development, Edward Elgar, 2007, Ch. 8

In the present globalization era an increasing attention is paid to the ambiguous relationship between international migration, brain drain, and economic growth, but few papers analyzed the growth impact of skilled migration. The paper filled the research gap by building the first dataset on brain drain from seven countries of the western African Union (WAEMU) and highlighted the size of the brain loss toward Côte d’Ivoire and France. Burkina Faso shows a more severe brain drain to Cote d’Ivoire compare to other similar sahelian countries whereas the reverse holds when considering the destination France. The subsequent empirical strategy consists in comparing the growth performance of an economy without migration to the counterpart economy. The regional growth convergence analysis shows higher convergence rate once the brain circulation is accounted for. However, the effect of brain gain holds only for countries with migration outside WAEMU toward an industrialized country (France) and failed when migration, as is the case for Burkina Faso, flows into Cote d’Ivoire the polar economy of the Union. Therefore, migration can be used as a powerful force working toward income convergence between capital-rich and capital-poor countries.