The purpose of this article is to raise the issue of human capital outflow from Russia. Firstly, we’ll define the concept of “Brain Drain”; secondly, we’ll analyze the damage brain drain brings to the country; then, we’ll look at the history of brain drain in Russia, next, we’ll examine the current situation in Russia, finally we’ll focus on some government measures to reduce brain drain.

According to Cambridge English Dictionary: Brain Drain – is the ​situation in which ​large ​numbers of ​educated and very ​skilled ​people ​leave ​their own ​country to ​live and ​work in another one, where ​pay and ​conditions are ​better [8].

If a certain percent of the population is prepared to leave the country at the earliest opportunity, it is said, that a country does have a drain of people in general and “brains” in particular. Brain –drain is mostly common for the younger generation, but people of retirement age might also have a desire to leave their motherland.

Between January and August 2014 more than 200,000 people left Russia, according to Russia’s Federal Statistics Agency. This number is much higher than for the first eight months in 2013, which saw about 121,000 people emigrating from Russia. In 2014, Russians were most often emigrating to the U.S., Germany, Canada and Finland [1].

There are many reasons for skilled people to immigrate to other countries: the impossibility of self-fulfillment, corruption, the difficult social environment and the more difficult climate. In many smaller cities, it is difficult to find a suitable apartment; there is a lack of restaurants, theaters and clubs; and – most importantly – salaries are often several times lower than in Moscow or St. Petersburg. As a result, it can be easier to move abroad than to a Russian regional center [2].

Brain Drain leads to the following negative consequences:

macro-economic damage: technological progress slows down; GDP per capita decreases; there is a growing need to buy overseas blueprints. Social damage:

the number of educated people decreases; the level of national prestige falls;

the level of patriotism reduces.

Let’s look at the background of brain drain from Russia to understand its “roots”. The first leakage happened in 1917 during the “October revolution”. New government exiled almost all brilliant scientists, who had a different way of thinking. This resulted in slowing down the Soviet scientific progress at that time.

The second leakage: 1991 “Perestroika”. There was a period of social instability, economic depression & zero opportunities for scientists. This contributed to a huge scientific & technological gap as well.

The third leakage: 2014 “Russia VS sanctions”

Escalation of Russian-Ukraine conflict inflicted a broad list of sanctions.

As a consequence, predicting upcoming depression cycle, many scientists leave Russia for better opportunities.

Brain drain is growing nowadays; it is increasing in dynamics, due to political & economical instability of Russia. Although, foreign investors may find excellent opportunities to run business in Russia. Representatives of the Russian Diaspora in Europe and the United States say that there is interest in working in Russia [3].

According to surveys by the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research (VTsIOM), more than 20 percent of Russians want to go abroad [4].

There is no point in forever trying to get scientists who left to return. We can offer them participation in specific projects, on which they would work here for three to five years [5].

It is impossible to stop the "brain drain," simply because migration is an organic process in the scientific world. Russia also needs to change the dynamic: not only selling minds, but also buying them. We have already begun, but we are still, of course, far from such giants as the United States, United Kingdom and China [6].

The brain drain problem is as relevant for Russia now as it used to be during Perestroika. Some experts argue that the trend is catastrophic, pointing to the increase in the numbers of researchers leaving the country. The Russian government believes that the Skolkovo Innovation Center is capable of at least slowing, if not reversing this situation. According to Alekseev, the Skolkovo Innovation Center and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (SkTech), can become the decisive factor for young Russian specialists and researchers in deciding whether to stay at home or seek their fortunes abroad [7].

Recognizing that Russia can still learn a thing or two from the rest of the world, the government allocated 4 billion rubles ($63 million) to fund education costs for up to 1,500 students who would study in any of the 225 fields in prestigious foreign universities on the condition that they return home after graduation to work in their specialties [9].

To sum up, Russia has a great threat for its economy – brain drain. It is impossible to ignore its devastating impact. The government tries to hold this phenomenon down, but even more has to be done. How to defeat Brain Drain? The answer is simple – eliminate reasons causing brain drain today, improve infrastructure in regions, fight against corruption and don’t let all the mistakes made in past happen again.


1. Информационный портал [Электронный ресурс] — Режим доступа. — URL:;

2. Сайт «Живой журнал» [Электронный ресурс] - Режим доступа. - URL:;

3. Интернет журнал [Электронный ресурс] - Режим доступа. -URL:;

4. Социологическая энциклопедия[Электронный ресурс] — Режим доступа. — URL:;

5. Информационный портал [Электронный ресурс] — Режим доступа. — URL:;

6.Информационный сайт университета [Электронный ресурс] — Режим доступа. — URL:;

7. Онлайн журнал [Электронный ресурс] — Режим доступа. — URL:;

8. Cambridge English Dictionaries On-line. URL:

9. Will Russia's Brain Drain Dry Up? URL:


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