By Moti Bassok Haaretz 7 January 2007
The brain drain from Israel picked up pace during the years 2002-2004, the
Shalem Center's Institute for Economic and Social Policy found. The United
States continues to be the number one destination, according to the report
by the Jerusalem-based think tank.
The report, compiled by Shalem fellow Omer Moav and Hebrew University
Professor Eric Gould, holds that relative to the population, Israel is the
second country after the United States in exporting educated workers - more
than India, Pakistan, Canada and Europe.
Between 2000 and 2004 the trend increased at a rate of 6 percent annually,
the report claims. While 0.9 percent of all researchers and professors left
Israel in 2002, that rate picked up to 1.7 percent by 2004. Similarly, the
rate of emigrating doctors rose from 1.3 percent in 2002 to 2.1 percent in
2004. Moav noted that this trend contrasts with the emigration rate of less
educated citizens, which has remained steady.
Moav and Gould published a previous report six months ago, claiming the
brain drain is picking up speed due to government policy. Russian immigrants
are returning to their impoverished homeland to make money. Moav disputes
the claim that most emigrants are Israelis going abroad to work for a few
years. Rather, Moav says, "The work culture abroad (primarily high-tech) and
the sabbaticals of Israeli university professors across the world are
nothing else but emigration."
The statistics show that 96 percent of educated people who left Israel
starting in 1995 have remained abroad, turning the extended sabbatical into
permanent residence, Moav observed.
Moav says one of the central reasons for the brain drain are the differences
in wages and tax burden. A particularly successful Israeli researcher and
lecturer, for example, would earn a gross salary of $60,000-$70,000
annually. In contrast, a run-of-the-mill researcher in the economics faculty
at the University of Wisconsin would gross $120,000 per year.
Researchers at Shalem found that because of the tax burden on Israel's
middle class, the highest among industrialized nations, the gap becomes more
severe between Israel and the U.S. when it comes to net salary.
According to Moav, the phenomenon is global, but countries like Germany, the
United Kingdom and Canada found ways to cope with it by adjusting
immigration policies to attract educated workers.
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