Black countries suffer from the effects of brain drain, and Jamaica is no different. Merriam-Webster states that brain drain is “the departure of educated or professional people from one country, economic sector, or field for another, usually for better pay or living conditions.” Brain drain strips countries like Jamaica of their human capital.
The question is, if the contributions of international Jamaican citizens happened in Jamaica rather than in foreign countries they reside in, would Jamaica be better off as a collective?
Approaching this question on the individual level, a popular answer is that migrants are better off in foreign countries and they send money back home, so that’s good enough. However, do these monies contribute to generational wealth? Does the way these monies are spent lead to appreciation? What are the lasting benefits?
In reality, it creates a cycle where Jamaicans, generation after generation, depend on foreign countries for opportunities, and contribute to the betterment of economies in first world countries with their only contribution to the Jamaican economy in the form of mere remittances. If this continues, Jamaica will become an unlivable place for all socioeconomic classes especially when Jamaica completely lacks professionals with appropriate knowledge and skills to facilitate vital industries. With current trends, the industry that will first experience the detriment of brain drain is healthcare.
A sense of civic responsibility and service should be encouraged in Jamaicans who migrate, especially highly trained and educated ones. Many of them will say ‘I love Jamaica, but I can’t live there’ instead of ‘I love Jamaica, so I will make it a place where I and my fellow Jamaicans can live.’ It is actually a great opportunity to pursue an entrepreneurial vision with minimal competition, but there aren’t many who think like that or are willing to take the risk. There aren’t many who prioritize preventing Jamaica from becoming only a tourist destination, or a place where only foreigners can benefit from Jamaica’s resources.
When a country’s citizens see no options but to move abroad to seek better opportunities, that does not indicate future prosperity, financially, economically or otherwise.