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Defending the active recruitment of health workers: a response to commentators

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  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • i Bhargava also criticizes my parenthetical remark that his study with Docquier's finds that the emigration of physicians is sometimes negatively correlated with adult deaths. I am still unclear on why Bhargava believes that this remark is a misrepresentation. In his response, Bhargava writes that the net effect of medical brain drain on adult deaths due to AIDS was negative (−0.005) when computed at the start of the sample in 1991 when the sample mean of HIV prevalence rates was 2.98%. Michael Clemens notes: ‘Bhargava and Docquier find that the fraction of physicians abroad has …a negative and significant effect on AIDS deaths in countries where HIV prevalence is low.’18 I would be curious to know if Bhargava thinks that Clemens’ claim is mistaken.

  • ii An objector might argue that we are also unable to infer that the emigration of health workers does not cause harmful health outcomes from the other studies that I cite. After all, these studies have problems too. It is true that I am unable to rule out the possibility that the other studies that I cite are flawed. Nonetheless, it seems to me that the balance of evidence at least casts doubt on the claim that the emigration of health workers from low-income countries generally enables serious harm, even if these studies fail to conclusively establish this claim.

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