A recent analysis by Elsevier shows that India has a 0.6% net inflow of scientists. Moreover, incoming scientists and short-term visiting (or transitory) scientists are significantly more productive than scientists who remain in India and scientists that leave the country. India is not losing productive brains, but is in fact an importer of productive brains.
Dr. Michiel Kolman, Senior Vice-President Academic Relations at Elsevier, attending the Centennial Indian Science Congress, commented, “India shows a net inflow of scientists, with the productivity of the incoming and visiting scientists being higher than that of the average staying and outgoing scientist; so in fact a case can be made for an Indian ‘Brain Gain’ rather than the commonly believed ‘Brain Drain’.”
Using Elsevier’s Scopus database, publication data was studied over a 15-year period tracking migration streams of scientists using their affiliations and hence the country they publish in. The size of the migration streams was analyzed revealing that 64.1% of the scientists stayed within India during the 15-year study period, 23.4% were visiting (or transitory) researchers (traveling in or out of India for a period less than 2 years), 6.6% moved to and 6.0% left India; summing up to a net inflow of 0.6%.
The level of productivity of these migration groups was measured by publication output and expressed relative to India’s country average publication output set to one. Analyses showed that incoming scientists (6.6% of the total number of scientists studied) are most productive (1.38 where 1.00 is the average publication output for India), visiting or transitory scientists (23.4%) are almost as productive (1.34), while outgoing scientists (6.0%) are below average in productivity (0.95).
These results can be put into international context by comparison with the UK and China. Both the UK and China display similar patterns as India: all three countries import scientists that are more productive than their country average and they all export scientists that are less productive.
Group size comparative analyses of outgoingscientists revealed: 6.0% for India, 10.0% for UK and 2.1% for China; with productivity levels at 0.95, 0.92 and 0.99 respectively, consistently below country publication average for all three countries.
Group size comparative analyses ofincoming scientists revealed: 6.6% for India, 8.5% for UK and 7.1% for China; with productivity levels at 1.38, 1.14 and 1.85 respectively; consistently higher than country publication average for all three countries, and significantly higher for India and China.
Group size comparative analyses of visiting (or transitory) scientists revealed: 23.4% for India, 44.4% for UK and 16.0% for China, with productivity levels at 1.34, 1.24 and 1.22 respectively; again more productive than country publication averages.
Group size comparative analyses of staying scientists in the15-year study period revealed: 64.1% for India, 37.2% for UK and 74.9% for China, with productivity levels 0.75, 0.60 and 0.74 respectively; all significantly below the country averages, with the UK being the least productive.
Further comparing level of mobility (incoming, visiting and outgoing), it was found that mobility is substantially higher for the UK compared to China or India with 62.8% of all scientists from the UK moving around during the 15-year study period, compared to 35.9% for India and 25.1% for China.