High skilled migration through the lens of policy

Christopher R. Parsons, Sebastien Rojon, Lena Rose, Farhan Samanani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


High skilled migrants and the policies designed to attract and select such individuals are widely championed. In formulating and evaluating such policies, however, policy makers and academics alike face significant challenges, since, from the perspective of policy, what it means to be high skilled remains a fluid concept. The resulting ambiguity stymies meaningful international comparisons of the mobility of skills, undermines the design and evaluation of immigration policies and hinders the measurement of human capital. In this paper, we adopt an inductive approach to examine how high skilled migrants are classified based upon states' unilateral immigration policies, thereby highlighting the difficulties of comparing high skilled policies across countries. We further elucidate the challenges in measuring the outcomes of high skilled migration policies that arise due to differing national priorities in recording high skilled migrants. We conclude by making a number of policy recommendations, which if enacted, would bring clarity to scholars and policy makers alike in terms of being able to meaningfully compare the composition, and assess the efficacy of, high skilled migration policies across countries. In doing so we introduce three datasets comprising: harmonised high skill migration flow data, skilled occupational concordances and high skilled unilateral and bilateral migration policy data, which undergird our analysis and that can be built upon in years to come.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-306
Number of pages28
JournalMigration Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


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