More than ever, in the 21st century, highly-qualified labour force (so-called “human capital”) is an essential determinant of economic growth; this applies equally to high-income as well as low-income countries. At the same time high-potentials, in particular in the much sought-after MINT qualifications seem to become increasingly scarce on a world-wide level, so that a global race for talents is on in which the richer countries have the highest bits especially for young people who are flexible to migrate within an increasingly interconnected world where information and personal contacts are spreading in almost light speed. Yet, it is observed that – depending essentially on the economic and political conditions in their home country – many of those who have up-graded their competences abroad are returning to their countries of origin where they constitute a most valuable resource for development.
Under these conditions many researchers, policy makers, and development organizations put forward that poor countries are exploited and deprived of their brightest while others emphasize the benefits conveyed by the returnees. Both may be right, but the essential question is “what makes the winners and what makes the losers”? This is the questions our panel will turn to. It is of timely interest for global development research and policy. Empirical as well theoretical, global overviews as well as case studies are welcome. They should be of a quality allowing for later publication.