The Fiscal Impact of High-Skilled Emigration: Indian Emigration to the U.S.

(w/ D. Kapur, J. McHale, and K. Rogers) Journal of Development Economics, 88:1 (January 2009), 32-44.

What are the fiscal consequences of high-skilled emigration for source countries? This paper develops methodologies for inferring these consequences and applies them to the recent sizable emigration of high-skilled workers from India to the U.S. This wave of emigration from India to the U.S. is shown to be unusually concentrated amongst the prime-age work force, the highly educated and high earners. In order to calculate the fiscal losses associated with these emigrants, estimates of their counterfactual earnings distributions are generated using two distinct methods and integrated with a model of the Indian fiscal system to calculate fiscal consequences. Conservative estimates indicate that the annual net fiscal impact to India of high-skilled emigration to the U.S. is one-half of 1% of gross national income (or 2.5% of total fiscal revenues). The sensitivity of these results to the method of predicting counterfactual incomes and the implications of these estimates for other developing countries is discussed in detail.