Migration policy affects attractiveness of OECD countries to international talent

OECD stats2

(Credit: OECD)

This article is brought to you in association with OECD.


The most attractive OECD countries for highly qualified potential immigrants are Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada, in part because of favourable admission and stay conditions. Most countries can increase their attractiveness by accelerating application procedures and offering better residence conditions to highly qualified migrants and their family members, according to a new measure of talent attractiveness developed by the OECD.

The global competition for talent has led many countries to introduce more favourable policy frameworks for the best and the brightest, but many other factors contribute to shape countries’ attractiveness for foreign talent.

The OECD Indicators of Talent Attractivenesspublished today reveal how countries compare in terms of how attractive they are for three key groups of potential migrants: highly-educated workers; entrepreneurs; and aspirant international students. The Indicators find that the ranking for the top countries changes according to the group: for entrepreneurs, the top five are Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway. For international students, the top five are Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Finland and the United States.

The United States would rank among the top countries for highly-qualified workers and entrepreneurs, but is penalised by the fact that relatively few are able to obtain a visa, and the conditions for their family members are comparatively restrictive.

The OECD Indicators of Talent Attractiveness score seven dimensions: quality of opportunities; income and tax; future prospects; family environment; skills environment; inclusiveness; and quality of life. The indicators also take into account how difficult it is for prospective migrants with required skills to obtain a visa or residence permit.

Since not all dimensions are of the same importance to every individual, the OECD Indicators of Talent Attractiveness allow the user to weight the relative importance of each dimension and produce an individual customised ranking showing which destination best corresponds to their own priorities.

The Migration Policy Brief, “How do OECD countries compare in their attractiveness for talented migrants?”, is available at http://www.oecd.org/migration/mig/migration-policy-debates-19.pdf.

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