The issue of brain drain as a result of South-North migration has been a preoccupation for developing countries around the world and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states in particular. In recent years, the debate has moved beyond brain drain to speculate on the development prospects of brain circulation through return migration. Also on the current agenda are the prospects for economic development through remittances and the engagement of diaspora communities. This paper examines the evolution of the debate and key issues with particular attention to the implications for small, developing states within CARICOM. Of particular importance is the conclusion that remittances alone are not sufficient for economic development and are, in fact, a reverse subsidy to wealthier countries. However, through domestic reforms and international advocacy and cooperation it may be possible to improve the development returns of highly skilled emigration.

Part of Series

CIGI's Caribbean Papers present and discuss policy issues pertaining to trade, investment, human capital, the fiscal outlook and public sector management practices, among other issues, relevant to the Caribbean region's economic future.
  • Laura Dawson is Senior Associate – Training and Research at the Centre for Trade Policy and Law (CTPL), Carleton University/University of Ottawa, where she designs and directs technical assistance and research projects in the Americas as well as in China and eastern Europe.