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The Center for Global Development, a Washington think tank, said large-scale departures can cause budget strain and weaken institutions in developing nations, which badly need reformers and innovators at home.
In a report released this month called "Give Us Your Best and Brightest: The Global Hunt for Talent and Its Impact on the Developing World," the group said better-educated workers are more likely to emigrate and are more marketable abroad.
John McHale, co-author of the Center for Global Development study, said states with low high-skilled emigration rates -- like Burkina Faso, Botswana and Egypt, where less than 5 percent of university-educated workers depart the country -- tend to fare better.
"The countries that are able to retain their talent, where people are employed productively at home, stand a better chance of developing and building the institutions that are better for development," McHale, a Queen's University professor, said.