Wednesday, 4 December 2013, 18:00, Staff Lounge

Science in developing countries

Jacqueline Dreyer, EMBL Manager of External Scientific Courses, will present the topic and lead the discussion.

Mastery and application of modern science and technology are still features that distinguish developed from developing countries. This currently existing inequality is often due to the fact that science in developing countries is still a marginal activity, which the governments can often not afford to support. However, research and education are essential for the progress of these countries. Education levels, population, and per capita GDP have been shown to be positively related to the number of important scientists born in and staying in a country (BA Weinberg, Journal of Development Economics 95 (2011) 95–104). Developing countries produce a sizeable number of important scientists, but they experience a tremendous brain drain.

The most obvious factor contributing to brain drain is the availability of better job opportunities in the new country. Less developed countries generally do not have the ability to support growing industry and the need for better research facilities, and career progression. There is an economic and developmental loss when all of the educated individuals use their knowledge to benefit a country other than their own, as well as a loss of education when these individuals leave without assisting in the education of the next generation.

According to the OECD Observer, "Science and technology policies are key in this regard." Increasing job advancement opportunities and research opportunities in order to reduce the initial loss of brain drain as well as encourage brain gain would be the most beneficial strategy. The process is however, difficult and lengthy, but it is possible, and necessary.

Recommended references

Weinberg, B. A. (2011). "Developing science: Scientific performance and brain drains in the developing world." Journal of Development Economics 95: 95–104. Full text

Barley, S. (2012). "Science in the developing world: Eritrea's shattered science." Asmarino Independent, 31 October 2012. Full text

Nature Supplements: "A World of Science in the Developing World" (2008).