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High-Skilled Migration in Times of Crisis – Survey (2013)


Crises impact on migration trends in a multitude of ways. High-skilled individuals are particularly prone to ‘exit’ in search of opportunities elsewhere. The outflow of high skilled migrants may have significant long-term implications for a country’s economic growth potential, its competitiveness, and its propensity to undertake structural reforms. Given the premium that is accorded today to human capital and the global competition for talent and knowledge migrants, it is important to better understand in what ways the current economic crisis has impacted the decisions of high skilled EU citizens from most hard-hit countries to vote with their feet. In 2013, the Global Governance Programme of the EUI took the initiative to launch an e-survey aiming to gain qualitative insights into the profile of high-skilled migrants from Southern Europe and Ireland, their motivations for emigrating as well as how they are experiencing EU mobility or the decision to seek employment outside the EU.

The data collected sheds fascinating insight into a young, highly educated, highly employable and highly mobile population. Meritocracy, employment opportunities in positions of responsibility and a desire to live in societies open to diversity are among the key pull factors, while corruption, nepotism and lack of opportunities offered to young professionals top the reasons that have pushed them to leave their country of origin. Although notable barriers to EU mobility are highlighted by the survey respondents, the opportunities that they have found in their country of settlement have rewarded their decision to move.

For a detailed analysis of the e-survey see Survey Report Emigrating in times of crisis.


In the News

Living on credit, Royal Society Of Chemistry, 31 July 2015.

Únik mozgov. Mladí Gréci utekajú do Nemecka a Británie,Pravda.sk, 29 July 2015.

Grecia: 9 gráficos que muestran cuánto afecta la crisis a los ciudadanos   El Mostrador, 20 July 2015

How bad are things for the people of Greece? BBC, 16 July 2015.

Em números: Como a crise piorou a vida dos gregos   Globo.com, 18 July 2015

La Grèce dévastée par la fuite de ses cerveaux Tribune de Genève, 25 June 2015



“Voting with their feet” : highly skilled emigrants from southern Europe

Survey Report Emigrating in times of crisis


Top reasons for leaving:




Lack of professional opportunities


To improve qualifications


Poor quality of life


No future in the country


Better business opportunities


To seek adventure


greeceCountry Focus


irelandCountry Focus


italyCountry Focus


portugalCountry Focus


spainCountry Focus

Note: Respondents could select multiple reasons. Only those that received over 20% feature here.