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Brain drain from Turkey: the case of professionals abroad

Nil Demet Güngör (Economics Department, Atılım University, Ankara, Turkey)
Aysıt Tansel (Economics Department, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, and Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Bonn, Germany)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 11 July 2008




The paper aims to present research findings on the return intentions of Turkish professionals residing abroad, where the targeted group comprises individuals working at a full‐time job abroad who possess at least a tertiary level degree.


The study uses a descriptive framework to establish the validity of several proposed models of non‐return. The results are based on an internet survey of Turkish professionals conducted by the authors during the first half of 2002. A combination of internet search and referral sampling methods is used to collect the data. Correspondence analysis is used to examine the relationship between return intentions and various factors that may affect this intention.


The results emphasize the importance of student non‐return versus traditional brain and appear to complement the various theories of student non‐return. Many Turkish professionals working abroad are non‐returning post‐graduate students rather than holders of higher degrees obtained in Turkey who subsequently moved. The respondents appear to come from relatively well‐to‐do families with highly educated parents. Many have earned their degrees from universities that have foreign language instruction. The recent economic crises in Turkey have negatively affected return intentions. It is verified that return intentions are indeed linked closely with initial return plans, and that this relationship weakens with stay duration. Specialized study and work experience in the host country also all appear to contribute to explaining the incidence of non‐return. Return intentions are weaker for those working in an academic environment.


The study is the first of its kind for Turkey and other developing countries in terms of the number of responses received and the kind of information collected. Implications are valuable for Turkish and other developing country planners.



Demet Güngör, N. and Tansel, A. (2008), "Brain drain from Turkey: the case of professionals abroad", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 323-347.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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