Journal Article | Journal of Development Economics | January 2009

The Fiscal Impact of High-skilled Emigration: Flows of Indians to the U.S.

by Mihir Desai, D. Kapur, J. McHale and K Rogers

Abstract

Easing immigration restrictions for the highly skilled in developed countries portends a future of increased human capital outflows from developing countries. The myriad consequences of these developments for developing countries include the direct loss of the fiscal contributions of these highly skilled individuals. This paper analyzes the fiscal impact of this loss of talent for a developing country by examining human capital flows from India to the U.S. The escalation of the emigration of highly skilled professionals from India to the U.S is examined by surveying evidence on the changing nature of the Indian-born in the U.S. during the 1990s. The loss of talent to India during the 1990s was dramatic and highly concentrated amongst the prime-age work force, the highly educated and high earners. In order to estimate the fiscal losses associated with these emigrants, this paper first estimates what these emigrants would have earned in India, and then integrates the resulting counterfactual distributions with details of the Indian fiscal system to estimate fiscal impacts. Two distinct methods to estimate the counterfactual earnings distributions are implemented: a translation of actual U.S. incomes in purchasing power parity terms and an income simulation based on a jointly estimated model of Indian earnings and participation in the workforce. The PPP methods indicate that the foregone income tax revenues associated with the Indian-born residents of the U.S. comprise one-third of current Indian individual income tax receipts. Depending on the method for estimating expenditures saved by the absence of these emigrants, the net fiscal loss associated with the U.S. Indian-born resident population ranges from 0.24% to 0.58% of Indian GDP in 2001.

Keywords: Talent and Talent Management; Diasporas; Developing Countries and Economies; Taxation; Compensation and Benefits; Human Capital; Mathematical Methods; India; United States;

Citation:

Desai, Mihir, D. Kapur, J. McHale, and K Rogers. "The Fiscal Impact of High-skilled Emigration: Flows of Indians to the U.S." Journal of Development Economics 88, no. 1 (January 2009).