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Study shows where brains drain, or gain

A new study shows where scientists migrate to, and why. For foreign scientists in Denmark the main motivators are careers and prestige

A recent investigation shows what draws scientists to certain countries, shedding light on Denmark’s attraction to foreign researchers and PhD students. The work surveyed active scientists from 16 countries, asking where they originated from, why they had moved and if they ever planned to return to their county of origin.

See the paper and the rest of its data here.

They found almost 22 per cent of scientists in Denmark came from outside Denmark, far lower than in Switzerland where 56.7 per cent of researchers were foreign born, but far higher than India’s 0.8 per cent. The largest cohort of foreign born researchers in Denmark come from Germany, who make up almost a quarter of foreign born researchers.

The authors find this unsurprising: »Germany is the most likely country of origin of immigrant scientists in the Netherlands as well as immigrant scientists studying or working in Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland,« they say.

Only one in five Danes to return

The most common reasons given for migration, including to Denmark, was the ‘opportunity to improve my future career prospects’ and the chance to work with ‘outstanding faculty, colleagues or research team’. Joint third were ‘excellence/prestige of the foreign institution in my area of research’ and the ‘opportunity to extend my network of international relationships.’

For emigrating Danish scientists, the most common destinations were the UK and USA.

The majority of those Danish scientists plan to remain abroad, with less than one in five of the migrant scientists from Denmark definitely planning to return. For those that do make the journey back, the largest reason was for personal or family reasons followed by desiring a better quality of life.

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