Does corruption influence young brain drain? Evidence from Italy.

Alessandra Patti (University of Messina)


In the last couple of decades, young skilled flow within Italian provinces has begun to increase at higher speed than ever. While it is probably too early to say if this process is transitory or permanent, it is undoubted that it is important and needs to be deeply studied by researchers as well as constantly monitored by policy makers. Previous empirical studies have demonstrated that skilled migration is influenced by economic factors, such as income per capita and employment of origin and destination places, and, with a less extent, by the search of places endowed with more amenities. In the crossroad between these two factors, this paper investigates the role of corruption as a push factor explaining skilled flows. The empirical analysis mainly relies on the estimation of a gravity equation by using both the methods of Zero-Inflated Poisson and Pseudo-Poisson Maximum Likelihood with High Dimensional Fixed Effects with bilateral data of the Italian universities and provinces where they are located. Results suggest the existence of both push and pull mechanisms at play, as high corruption incentivizes skilled emigration toward destination provinces that, instead, exhibit lower levels of corruption. Moreover, sensitivity of the prospective tertiary students towards corruption varies depending on the fields of study of interest. Finally, we consider the effect of corruption over skilled flows from the South tod the Centre-North, partly motivating the existence of longstanding socio-economic differences between the North and the South of Italy.

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