One thing about the Russian brain drain that surprised me is the level of "internal
brain drain" where scientists remain in Russia but give up their vocation to pursue
other careers. More productive careers, I'd say. Consider: Russia had too many
scientists. Emigration restrictions and low opportunity cost for becoming educated
created one of the most impressive cadres of scientists in the world. A lot of good
it did the USSR, right?
Many foreign and domestic companies employ fleets of scientists and technology experts
in Russia, and most are Russians. The biggest brain drain problems are in wonderful
academia, where soviet dinosaurs lecture on obscure topics to young Russians still
getting a highly subsidized education. What happens to a good portion of academia
when there is no government funding? Its worthless. Take away a good portion of the
subsidies from any country's academic sector and look at the number of academic jobs.
Multiply this by a few magnitudes and you have what has happened in Russia.
Many of the scientists that remain in Russia are working for productive local
corporations and multinationals, or under funding from foreign organizations. My
point is, why would we want to stop this "brain drain," especially the internal
variety? That said, certainly the large subsidies for science education should be
The worst thing they can do: "In 2000, funding for science increased by almost 39
percent, and Russia now spends some $1.3 billion on science annually. The numbers are
expected to increase even further in the 2003 budget." One good thing: they rent some
of their huge lab space out as office space to corporations in order to fund their
research. Also, for DC-metro area readers, some Moscow scientists now use their
otherwise useless military equipment and laser technology expertise to make very
beautiful pieces of art, reasonably priced at the "Russian Laser Art" store upstairs
at Tysons Corner.
Bryan Caplan wrote:
> But the main thing you hear about post-Communist Russia is the awful explosion of
> inequality, blah, blah, blah.
Certainly, a good portion of the brain drain is due to the inability for scientists
doing productive work to make their market wage. I'd say the bigger problem in this
case is highly subsidized education, though.
> The slogan shouldn't be "equality" but "riches for the most productive" or perhaps
> "better inequality."
I looked at this from an advertising or public relations perspective, and decided that
they would only work in an Ayn Rand novel.
-- Zac Gochenour
"Make no laws whatever concerning speech, and speech will be free; so soon as you make
a declaration on paper that speech shall be free, you will have a hundred lawyers
proving that 'freedom does not mean abuse, nor liberty license'; and they will define
and define freedom out of existence."
-- Voltarine de Cleyre