A new study commissioned by the German Research Foundation (DFG) disputes the widely held opinion that scientific “brain drain” from Germany is a significant problem.

The study, based on an exhaustive, wide-ranging report charting career paths and opinions of previous recipients of DFG fellowships, indicates that 85% of scientists who leave Germany for work or research abroad eventually return to jobs in Germany.

Alexis-Michel Mugabushaka, who coauthored the study while an associate researcher at the University of Kassel, told The Scientist that the 85% repatriation figure is lower than previous studies or widespread anecdotal evidence.

Mugabushaka, who last month joined the DFG's Department of Information Management as an evaluation and statistics officer, said statisticians in some “brain drain” studies have mistakenly focused on scientists already abroad.

In November last year, the European Commission warned that the European Union was losing too many scientists, particularly to the United States. To back...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?