Skilled migration: a theoretical framework and the case of foreign researchers in Italy
Brandi, Maria Carolina
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Different solutions are called for in order to resolve the difficulty of finding a satisfactory definition of migration. In this paper the authors propose dividing migratory movements into two distinct major categories: economic migration and non-economic migration. Economic migration can, in turn, be divided into two separate categories: mass migration and skilled migration. Both micro differences (that relate to single individuals) and macro differences (related to the economies of the countries involved) are analysed. In the category of skilled migrants are included people such as scientists and researchers, international consultants, employees of international organisations, managers of multinational businesses, professionals, clergy, artists, actors, tourism operators, athletes, specially qualified workers, military personnel, and university students. The characteristics of each group are illustrated in the paper. Since the traits that identify skilled migration are not generally considered negative, unlike the characteristics of mass migration, but have today become more and more a part of professional life, it is preferable not to talk any longer of “brain drain” but rather of “brain movements” or “brain circulation”. As an illustration of skilled migration, the present paper provides the results of a survey carried out in Italy in public research institutes. In the study, 241 especially designed questionnaires were collected from foreign researchers who were working in these research institutes in 2001. The paper analyses their socio-demographic characteristics, the typologies of employment, the duration of their stay in Italy, their reasons for moving and their return home.