Categorisation of the diaspora: New thinking on talent mobility

For many years Advance has worked actively to map the Australian diaspora – where Australians live overseas, how long they live overseas, the type of work they do, the reasons that led them to work overseas and return home, and if/how they stay connected with Australia. And of course, we want to know how the Australian diaspora has evolved, particularly the demographic makeup of Australian living overseas (age, gender, ethnic background, education level, geographic origin in Australia).

Research presented at an Institute of Migration (IOM) seminar in December 2022 helped shed light on ways to maximise diaspora engagement through better data and metholodogies. The frameworks and research presented by Dr Andrés Solimano, founder and Chairman of the International Center for Globalization and Development (CIGLOB), was particularly instructive in the Australian context. While the determinants of international migration flows (based on economic, social, and policy variables – below) are useful, they aren’t particularly relevant in categorising the determinants of Australian going overseas. But Dr Solimano also categorised the mobility of talent and wealth segments – which are instructive for the Australian context.  

Main Determinants of International Migration Flows

  • Per capita income
  • Developmental gaps and wage differentials between sending and receiving countries
  • Unemployment and informality in labor markets in the sending and receiving nations
  • Cross-country differences in the phase of the economic cycle
  • Family and social networks that share information on job opportunities in the country of immigration
  • Immigration policies, including incentives and restrictions to the international mobility of people of different skills
  • Cost of migration (distance, cost of traveling, legal costs, search costs)
  • Differences in the quality of cities and availability of social services to migrants and their families in receiving countries
  • Conflict, humanitarian crises, violence, human rights violations, natural disasters (i.e. “forced migration” or “forcibly displaced population”)

Mobility of Talent

Mobility of talent accounts for about 30 million (11%) of all migration in 2020. Defined as migrants with higher education, Dr Solimano brought together theory and case studies of skilled migration with his 2008 publication, The International Mobility of Talent: Types, Causes, and Development Impact. He describes three categories of talent:

  • talent engaged in directly productive activities (managers, engineers, skilled workers)
  • talent devoted to scientific, training, and academic endeavors in the university sector (scholars, academics, and international students)
  • talent allocated to the health sector and the cultural sector (medical doctors and nurses, writers, painters, singers)

Global talent mobility takes place in 5 realms or “circuits”:

  • the international corporate sector chiefly comprising multinational companies and international banks (CEOs, managers)
  • the independent private sector (professionals, experts, cultural workers)
  • the academic sector-universities (scholars, scientists, international students)
  • the international public sector (UN, World Bank, OECD, IMF, etc.)
  • the global civil social society (foundations and NGOs)

Mobility of the Wealthy

In the IOM seminar Dr Solimano described another category within global diaspora – each year, approximately 50,000 high net worth individuals who move internationally to reside in other destinations every year. In choosing a country to establish a residence for them and their families, they consider the following factors:

  • personal safety
  • availability of high-quality health services
  • favorable tax treatment
  • protection of wealth and property rights and good financial systems
  • good education opportunities for the children
  • visa-free mobility to third countries
  • cosmopolitan settings and good transport connections

The analysis of Mobility of Talent resonates with Advance’s mission, and what we observe in our community and the individuals recognised each year in the Global Australian Awards. Meanwhile, Mobility of the Wealthy is likely to be a growing segment, and important to differentiate from other segments.