Restless minds: South African students and the brain drain

Robert Mattes, Namhla Mniki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports the results of a 2002 survey of emigration potential among a representative sample of 4784 postgraduate and final-year undergraduate students at South Africa's tertiary educational institutions. The authors created a valid and reliable index of emigration potential and found slightly higher levels than those measured by identical questions in previous surveys of skilled adult South Africans. Multivariate regression analysis revealed that the factors that most increase emigration potential among South Africa's future skills base are logistical ones, including family encouragement and financial resources. Next in importance are students' prospects of a better life for themselves and their families in their target countries than in South Africa. Finally, the study showed that patriotism and strong national identity decrease emigration potential while previous travel abroad and access to information about life abroad increase it. It also found that a range of possible government attempts to make emigration more difficult would only increase students' probability of leaving the country.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-46
Number of pages22
JournalDevelopment Southern Africa
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2007


  • South African students
  • emigration
  • national identity


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