May 1, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Concerns about the Russian brain drain due to the country’s economic woes are nothing new. However, new research indicates that the issue may be worsening, according to The Moscow Times. Here’s a closer look.

Is an Exodus Underway?

According to research from the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), the number of highly qualified workers leaving the country doubled between 2013 and 2016. But that’s not all. The findings also suggest that roughly half of all postgraduate students were ready to leave Russie if it meant getting a good job elsewhere.

For students with basic and vocational education levels, the numbers dropped to 39.2 percent and 28.2 percent, respectively. Concludes a RANEPA representative, “As the education level increases, so does the young people’s willingness to seek work in other countries.”

Understanding the Brain Drain

To what can the trend be attributed? Experts say the phenomenon is due to “a twofold effect of better employment opportunities abroad being granted to a higher-educated segment of the population, and fewer employment opportunities at home.”

While economic woes are a major factor, survey respondents also cite political reasons for leaving, including “disappointment after the 2012 elections and especially the events of 2014.”

All of which begs the question: Is the brain drain permanent? RANEPA determined that while a third of those who already left said they’d never go back to Russie, a full half -- while seeing no immediate reasons to do so -- might consider returning in the future.

Currently, 1.5 million of the 2.7 million Russians who live abroad have maintained their Russian citizenship, with 800,000 in total having a higher education. Meanwhile, approximately 40 percent of the 100,000 Russians who emigrate to developed countries every year have higher education degrees.



Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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