Q. Why is this a good idea?

The idea of making it easier for qualified people to move and work in Europe is a ‘win-win-win’ solution. Everyone benefits.

  • First, Europe wins. Let’s look at Germany for example. While there is no general countrywide ‘Fachkräftemangel’ yet, the Bundesagentur für Arbeit conducts regular assessments and finds a clear, substantial and persistent shortage of talent in specific jobs, notably in IT and related fields, but also in healthcare. Even more so, skilled immigrants create jobs and work complementarily with native workers. As a result, immigrants tend to raise wages of native workers and do not cause unemployment.

  • Second, the home countries win. Many people are often surprised to hear this. Do not fear the so called ‘brain drain’. Skilled people who leave temporarily or permanently also benefit their home countries. Over the last 10 years, academics have found time and again that emigration rather leads to ‘’brain gain’ — not a ‘drain’. How so? Every successful emigrant is a sign to the communities back home that education is worthwhile. In economists’ speak, the ‘return to education’ is increasing. As a result, more people at home study, such that the one person leaving more than replaced by those who now choose to educate themselves as well. What’s more, countries with large ‘emigrant diasporas’ benefit from faster diffusion of technology and receive high inflows of capital (so called ‘remittances’). It even turns out that fertility and norms tend to get spread from Europe back to home countries. In short: Migrants make their home countries become more like ‘us’ in Europe.

  • Third, talents win. They clearly benefit financially as well as personally. Migrants tell us they appreciate better access to public goods like transportation and also access to better quality services, from gyms to restaurants in cities in Germany. Talents working in Germany contribute via their taxes to the financing of our public services.


Q. Are you not concerned about a 'brain drain' in Developing countries?

A. We hear this question quite often. We share your concern for developing countries, yet we are not concerned. In fact, we have good news for you. The idea that emigration leads to an immediate and irreversible 'brain drain' has been proven wrong by researchers. Repeatedly. How so? See above. 

But let's not dwell on economic arguments. We believe the 'brain drain' argument is well meaning, yet quite paternalistic and deeply troubling from an individual human rights standpoint. Consider the double standard at play. Why are we, the citizens of Europe and North America, free to work and live anywhere - unbound by the concern to take care of our "homeland" - whereas our fellows in other countries are supposed to "help build their countries"? 

We believe that economic development should be about increasing the incomes of people and not the amount of economic activity in specific geographical regions. Immigration and emigration do just that. (h/t Alex Nowrasteh, Cato Institute)


Q. Why tech workers, why MENA countries?

A. As a small organization with limited resources we know the value of deliberate focus. Tech workers and Egypt are our starting point, not the endpoint of this journey.

Tech workers are an intriguing starting point due to a number of reasons. First, computer engineers speak code as a language - German is not always a requirement. Second, blue card regulations allow more flexibility for workers in MINT jobs. This eases the legal and regulatory burden on us. Third, Germany has a clear and evident 'Fachkräftemangel' in MINT and especially in IT jobs. 

We started with Egypt and have now expanded to other countries in the region. Why? First, Egypt has a number of high quality educational institutions (both public and private) as well as a longstanding tradition of valuing engineering work. Second, Egypt as an origin country for talented workers is large but underserved (in terms of blue card immigrants) if compared to India, China, Russia or Ukraine. Third, we believe that one of Europe's geostrategic challenges in the 21st century is to establish effective, working and legal ways of circular migration between itself and its mainly muslim neighbors to the South (North Africa, Middle East) as well as to the countries to its East (Central Asia). Through this lens, Egypt is the ideal starting point. 


Q. Really, Why Do you care about migration?

A. People care about many things, and our effective human capacity for concern and compassion has limits. We cannot all be equally aware or concerned about important issues like global warming, global health, the (low but relevant) prospect of nuclear war, poverty, ... (add your favorite legitimate cause here). 

We believe that the current system of global migration is grossly injust from a global individual inequality perspective. This is not just our belief. Look at the evidence: Your opportunities in life today depend largely on a factor you cannot control: Your country of birth. It is thus a matter not just of economics, but of applied Rawlesian ethics to support ways of migration that are legal and a clear triple win for all people and countries involved.

If you want to learn more about this topic, please reach out. We are happy to point you to some eye-opening readings by some of the leading thinkers in the fields of economics and philosophy.


Q. Do you have another question?

A. Share with us at johann@joinimagine.org and we might add your question to this list.