UNESCAP: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Topic A: Brain Drain in Asia and the Pacific

Asia’s “brain drain” refers to the emigration of highly educated, skilled workers as they move to other countries for expanded opportunities. Engineers who leave India for the United States costs the Indian economy approximately $2 billion annually in unrealized earnings and contributions. While the country of origin invests in its workers, it is the new country that those workers choose that will reap the returns on that investment. In practice, this amounts to the source country operating at a loss. The healthcare industry is in the spotlight due to this phenomenon. The flight of healthcare professionals leads to a decline in medical discoveries, innovation, and overall quality of life for the people of the source country. Moreover, if the money sent back to the source country in remittances is not used to increase development — often the case — the overall health of the economy and state of the people in the source country actually declines.

UNESCAP’s mandate focuses on sustainable, social, and macroeconomic policy and financing for development. Almost all of the countries of the region are either “victims” or “beneficiaries” of brain drain and each typically has some sort of policy regarding migration. No country is untouched by the effects of these population shifts, and ensuring the region’s long-term economic strength will require creative solutions to maintain a strong economic microcosm in Asia and the Pacific.

Topic B: Youth Unemployment in Asia and the Pacific

In Asia and the Pacific states alone, there are over 700 million people between the ages of 15 and 24, a population teeming with potential for greater economic output. While one in five workers in the region fall within this age range, this population accounts for nearly half of the Asia-Pacific’s jobless. Even within the employed youth population, many are forced to take up jobs with low pay, dangerous working conditions, and poor prospects, thereby preventing this group from earning a living wage. Without sufficient employment opportunities, the social and economic growth of this region runs the risk of stagnating in the long run as youth are stuck in the vicious cycle of unemployment or underemployment.

Many countries in the region do not, however, necessarily have the means to increase employment opportunities for its youth in the short and long run. Fully addressing the issue will require setting the foundation for greater employment opportunities for youth at a minimum, but must push further to deeper structural issues -- widespread lack of access to primary and secondary education, baseline inequity across the population -- to make substantive progress on fighting youth unemployment.

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