Working Paper

The Brain Drain is Dead, Long Live the New Zealand Diaspora

Published 1 January 2005 / By Alan Gamlen

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Although ‘tapping the diaspora’ is now widely recognized as a viable aid strategy for transferring wealth from the ‘developed’ to the ‘developing’ world, there has recently been a surge of interest in ‘the diaspora option’ among the middle-income ‘developed’ countries of the former British Empire, all of whom have been grappling with high rates of emigration. This paper focuses on one such country – New Zealand. It shows how diaspora engagement has begun to offer a way out of an impasse in the local brain drain debate; a debate in which the reigning theories of migration and human capital (such as ‘replacement migration’) have helped perpetuate one-sided, in-flow oriented migration management and population planning paradigms. This paper offers a simple threefold typology of diaspora engagement strategies: remittance capture, diaspora networking, and diaspora integration. This paper highlights a need not only for empirical research into population movements and diasporas in the former British Empire, but also for attention to underlying conceptions about how diasporas in general should be conceived and researched, particularly for the purposes of engagement. Such research can be of use not only to development aid agencies, but also to national strategists in ‘developed’ middle-income countries.Keywords:New Zealand ; migration; brain drain; brain gain; diaspora; engaging diasporas; migration and development; middling transnationalism.


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