This paper develops a novel model of optimal education, migration and return by heterogeneous, forward-looking agents. The model is parameterized and simulated to analyze the effects of immigration policies, identifying the brain-drain, brain-gain and brain-return effects when barriers to migration are reduced. We use parameters from the literature to inform our model and simulate migration and return from middle-income to industrialized countries. In particular, we apply the model to study migration and return between Eastern and Western Europe. We find that, for plausible degrees of openness, the possibility of return migration combined with the education incentive channel turns the brain drain into a brain gain for Eastern Europe.
©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston