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

Reply via email to