English and the Brain Drain: an Uncertain Relationship

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In his book Linguistic Justice for Europe and the World, Van Parijs analyses in one of his chapters the brain drain from non-Anglophone to Anglophone countries, which hurts the economic development of the non-Anglophone states. Van Parijs deems it clear that English is a very important factor to explain high-skilled migration. He, therefore, urges the non-Anglophone countries to relax their linguistic territorial constraints and allow English as a communication language in many different sectors, most notably higher education and scientific research. This would remove the incentive for potential expatriate brains to migrate for linguistic reasons. This article takes a closer look at Van Parijs’ reasoning and proposed solutions. It is concluded that the assumed connection between English and high-skilled migration cannot be proven empirically for research on this topic is scarcely available. Furthermore, the solutions presented by Van Parijs will produce uncertain results at best. Van Parijs rightfully puts the brain drain problem on the political and research agenda, but much more additional studies are needed to formulate solid solutions.

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Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, European and Regional Studies

The Journal of Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania

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