Brain Drain in Pakistan

December 16, 2019

Over the last two to three decades, the number of highly qualified and highly trained manpower from Pakistan has been moving. This number has been increasing rapidly due to a number of factors. Our analysis seems to focus concisely on the push and pull factors and by combining the two what actually leads to such a huge pool of people leaving their home country.

Although, Pakistan enjoys the returns in form of remittances but do they outweigh the loss country faces in terms if real and qualified youth that’s much needed for a developing economy to prosper? What good does it to the economy of Pakistan if this manpower is used to maximize the economy’s potential rather than brining in professionals from overseas countries?

There are a number of factors that instigate emigration of qualified personals to developed economy, the first and foremost is the declining living standards of Pakistan which are explained through the trend in GDP per Capita over the years. Another important contributor for emigration is improvement in education and concentration on higher education that leaves the qualified and skilled manpower with little or at time no opportunities to stay back and serve Pakistan. The instability of Pakistani economy in itself is a big issue; political upheavals and disrupted national fundamentals also play a vital role in this decision.

Country specific Brain Drain


Brain Drain in Pakistan

The above graph demonstrates the movement of skilled, highly skilled, and highly qualified people out of Pakistan over the last 50 years. The number has been increasing with skilled people being the largest to move out.

Effect of Education

The graph shows how the increased literacy rate in terms of increased number of institutes providing technical training, higher& intermediate education and degrees. Since brain drain mainly constitutes of highly qualified manpower, hence, the red line shows the amount has been increasing rapidly more than any other education category. This could be a probably instigator, the higher the qualified person, the more chances he has to move out towards better opportunities in developed ones.

Effect of Social Conditions

The decline and irregularity of social conditions in Pakistan could be clearly seen from the above graph. This strengthens the idea that instable economy and governmental fundamentals lead to higher brain drain in Pakistan. The data shows fluctuating accountability of corruption, violence has been at a very high bar and to cater all these issues, government hasn’t been effective enough.

Pakistan’s GDP per Capita (real) with major countries hosting Pakistani’s

This overall depiction of Pakistan’s GDP per Capita (real) in comparison with major countries which host most of highly qualified and highly skilled manpower Pakistan is given. GDP per Capita of Pakistan is lowest of all the mentioned countries and hasn’t varied much over the time. This indicator would be both, a push and pull factors for brain drain in Pakistan. The lower living conditions in Pakistan force the qualified manpower to leave the country and the way better living situation overseas pulls them to move there. Hence, GDP per capita is the most crucial factor in analyzing the rising trend of brain drain.

Do remittances compensate the increasing loss of manpower?

As visible from the graph, the increased number of emigrants has increased the value sent in Pakistan inform of remittances. This would definitely benefit the economy of Pakistan earn better. But again, it should be looked deep down to find out whether this compensation is good enough? Or the potential of Pakistan’s highly qualified and skilled people could help it do better? The amount of remittances earned has increased greatly from all countries after 2003.

Findings from UAE

GDP per capita of Pakistan is shown by the small orange bars which show huge difference between Pakistan and UAE’s living standards, thus making sense of why there’s a big chunk of Pakistan’s educated and qualified population moving out. Return of through remittances rose rapidly after 2002 and has been increasing since then.

Findings from USA

The results are not much different from what the situation Pakistan shares with UAE, but the values in USA are far greater than UAE. Difference between GDP per capita of Pakistan and USA is way higher than UAE. 

This blog post is written by Hamdia Uzair, M Arslan Farid, and Noor-ul-Huda, students from batch of 2020 at Lahore University of Management Sciences.