EU Policies and African Human Capital Developement
Background paper to the ERD2009
Yaw NYARKO – New York University, Department of Economics
Paper prepared for the Conference on “Financial markets, adverse shocks and policy responses in fragile countries”, organised by the European Report of Development in Accra, Ghana, 21-23 May, 2009.
Brain Circulation between the European Union (EU) and Sub-Saharan Africa is a crucial ingredient in Human Capital formation in the latter. A major constraint to African development is the very low base of skilled and highly educated workers and professionals. The production of skilled workers has been low, and only recently has seen a dramatic increase. Recent papers by many authors have indicated that a channel for human capital growth has been, paradoxically, the possibility of the brain drain which serves as both an incentive mechanism and which results in higher human capital when the drainers return. After a review of some of the literature, these insights are applied to the debates raging today on European Union migration policy: the Blue Card, Migration Contracts, anti-Brain Drain legislation, etc. This paper argues that a careful calibration of the EU policies may enable faster Human Capital growth in Africa, while, at the same time, being beneficial to the EU by supplying critically needed skills into the EU economy. By carefully planning the production of human capital and the consequent flow of skilled migrants into Europe, the EU can assist in the development of vitally needed numbers of trained or skilled workers in Africa.