Serious brain looking at the brain drain

Michael Clemens at the Center for Global Development is one of the smartest (and nicest) people who think seriously about development. What I particularly like is his willingness to challenge conventional wisdom – and to back his judgements with well-researched evidence. When he had doubts about the common view that it was a bad idea for industrialized countries to “poach” health workers from developing countries, he didn’t just put a theoretical argument – he went to Africa to gather data and interview health workers there to understand their stories. His blog post today If Congress Admits More Foreign Nurses, Will It Be Responsible for Killing Children in Poor Countries? Think Again is a good example of the clarity of his thought:

Africa needs stronger health systems, to be sure, but can we build those systems with our immigration policy? There is no scientific evidence that this has happened anywhere, or is possible anywhere. We should be very hesitant to force real people with real families to accept wages that we would never accept, without overwhelming and indisputable proof that by itself this blunt act does enormous good.

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