Migration is a selective process. For example, from time immemorial, good health has been an asset for migrating, resulting in migrants often having a longer life expectancy than non-migrants. Now that there is a global competition for the best and the brightest, having education and skills has also become an advantage for migrating, resulting in migrants being on average better educated and more skilled than non-migrants in the sending country, and sometimes also in the receiving country.
This applies in particular to migrants from the developing to the developed world. One tenth of tertiary-educated adults born in developing countries would reside, and be employed, in more developed countries; the proportion rises to between one third and one half when science and technology personnel are considered.
In the last decade, the international context has become especially favourable to highly-skilled migration. Thus, attracting highly-skilled immigrants has become government policy in advanced industrial (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – OECD) countries over the past years. Factors lying behind this tendency revolve around various labour market deficiencies, and international competitiveness for progress, growth and innovation.