Effects and Causes of Brain Drain in Pakistan

The practice of migration is as ancient as humanity. In this article, you’ll learn about the Effects and Causes of Brain Drain in Pakistan. This concept of brain drain is explored from several perspectives and has various definitions.

The word “brain drain” is defined as:

“the departure of educated or professional people from one country, economic sector, or field for another usually for better pay or living conditions” (Merriam Webster)

The idea of brain drain is regarded as a “zero-sum” game, meaning that one nation’s gain is equivalent to another nation’s loss. Therefore, social and political policy agendas have been dominated by the advantages and disadvantages of skilled migration in sending and receiving nations. Scholarly debates over who is “winning” and “losing” have been fierce.

In every region of the world, talented and intelligent individuals are desired. They are drawn to wealthy nations because of the higher incomes, superior living standards, availability of cutting-edge technology, and more stable political environments. The intellectuals of a nation are among its most valuable resources since they committed time and money to their education and training, making mobility one of the greatest losses to such nations.

Brain Drain Across the Globe

The scourge of brain drain is present when highly competent individuals migrate to more favorable environments. For instance, only three African nations—Libya, Mauritius, and Tunisia—have one doctor per almost 1000 people, with corresponding physician-to-population ratios of 2.09, 2.00, and 1.29.

It is anticipated that Sri Lanka would see a significant brain drain shortly, given its current political and economic situation. In June 2022, the Sri Lankan foreign employment bureau published a report, and according to the paperwork, a record number of Sri Lankans—more than 1.5 lakh—left the nation in search of a brighter future. From the first week of January to the first week of July, the record is included.

Brain Drain in Pakistan

Since its birth, Pakistan has lacked to recognize and contain the intellectual pool. People with skills and competence find Pakistan an inhospitable place for their services. As the higher connection, personal references and sums of money silenced the intellectual prowess.

More than 10 million Pakistani people have reportedly emigrated abroad in quest of more favorable economic and career opportunities, according to reports compiled by the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment. Engineers, paramedics, physicians, Ph.D. candidates, accountants, highly skilled professionals, postgraduates, etc. are included in this.

Arsalan Ash, a well-known professional online gamer, won multiple competitions overseas and received recognition, yet in Pakistan, gaming is not regarded as a full-time occupation.

One further instance is the hiring of Muqeem Khan, Pakistan’s first visual effects artist, by the major entertainment film studio Walt Disney Pictures. No Pakistani company offered Mugeem the same advantages.

RegionMigration Number
Middle East10,734,910
North America5,715
Region-wise division of migration by individuals – Source: Open Data Pakistan

This high migration rate in the Middle East with the greatest number of migrants is what stands out. This region comprises the countries with the largest migration rates, including Saudi Arabia with 5,430,537 migrants and the United Arab Emirates with 3,860,258; Oman comes in second with 793,454 migrants, and the list goes on.

According to a survey by Start-Up Pakistan, the number of job searchers in the UAE surged significantly by 126 percent in May 2022. The primary causes of the massive mass migration are rising prices and a lack of work possibilities, which drove many to seek employment overseas, particularly in the United Arab Emirates. Furthermore, according to the report, Saudi Arabia, which saw an increase of around 31 percent, was the second-leading destination for Pakistani migrants after the UAE. Oman and Qatar, on the other hand, saw a decline.

Causes of Brain Drain in Pakistan

  1. Over the past five years, Pakistan’s economy has been shaky. Asa result, the closure of marketplaces and businesses has contributed to an increase in inflation.
  2. Up until now, Pakistan’s brain drain has also been attributed to unstable leadership. According to political history, there has typically been a rivalry between various political groups. Their struggle to advance their interests slows progress in a variety of areas, education prominent among them.
  3. The deficiency of research and improved educational possibilities in Pakistan is another issue that benefits skilled labor migration. Students in other countries are exposed to research in numerous fields and begin training at the college level. However, in Pakistan, research is done at the graduate and postgraduate levels, and it begins as soon as the student is enrolled.
  4. The foundation of modern, developed society is the productivity of research, but in Pakistan, this culture is not as strong due to a variety of factors, including a lack of funding for research, a lack of cutting-edge equipment for experimentation, and a lack of technical guidance. As a result, students are forced to leave Pakistan to compete internationally and pursue their studies in Western nations.


One of the main sources of inflows of foreign currency in Pakistan is remittances. These help to fund the nation’s trade imbalance, aid in the growth of foreign exchange reserves, and lower the government’s reliance on external financing. In the first half of the current fiscal year, remittances from Pakistanis employed overseas increased sharply by 11.3 percent to $15.8 billion.

According to figures from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the biggest sources of inflows were Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Saudi Arabia’s remittances increased by 2% to $4.034 billion from July through December of FY2022 (International, 2022). Many believe that this amount of money (remittances) has beneficial effects on the home nation, however, this can never be used as an excuse for the brain drain or loss of human capital.

Effect on Pakistan’s Development

  1. Pakistan is heavily affected by the factors listed below as a result of the outflow of several people.
  2. There is a reduction in tax revenue.
  3. The intellect of a nation closely correlates with its level of development, therefore the loss of potential business owners, scientists, or researchers has a negative impact on the nation’s ability to progress.
  4. This shortage of skilled people may lead to a loss of confidence in the economy. and the decline of the rupee may also trigger a larger population to move out.
  5. There is a loss of innovative ideas for the country.


  1. A comprehensive education system that includes everything a student seeks may be adopted; this would encourage students to study in their native countries and achieve success there.
  2. Those programs with foreign professors educating Pakistani students might be implemented. They might pass to pupils fresh and alluring methods for fostering their interests.
  3. By enhancing the nation’s political and social climate and fostering a secure and prosperous environment.
  4. Implementing such economic measures that benefit both the people and the state and include offering a competitive compensation plan, promotions, etc.


While the impact of brain drain is evident, countries like Pakistan continually fail to engage this issue with the urgency it deserves. The data is overwhelming that Pakistan is losing bright individuals at an alarming rate nearly 10 million in the last 20 years. Due to a variety of push and pull factors. If it is not stopped in a timely manner and plans are not made to deal with the loss, the nation might suffer severe consequences on a number of fronts, including the economy and intelligence.

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