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The missing evidence in favour of restricting emigration
  1. Javier S Hidalgo
  1. Correspondence to Javier S Hidalgo, Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond, 28 Westhampton Way, Jepson Hall, Richmond, VA 23173, USA; hidalgoj{at}

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Debating Brain Drain is an excellent book and I have learned much from both Gillian Brock's and Michael Blake's contributions.1 In this commentary, I will focus on Brock's contribution in part because I largely agree with Blake's position. But I also think that Blake neglects to emphasise some important epistemic considerations that weigh against Brock's argument.

Brock argues for the view that legitimate states can permissibly require skilled citizens to complete compulsory service before they can emigrate. One component of Brock's argument for compulsory service requirements is that these programmes would reduce deprivation. For example, many poor countries have few doctors, nurses and other health workers. If health workers emigrate from these countries, then the citizens of these countries may lack access to adequate medical care. Suppose though that states required health workers to complete compulsory service before they can emigrate. This policy might help alleviate the shortage of health workers in poor countries. Brock's argument for compulsory service has other facets as well. She argues that skilled citizens have moral responsibilities to remain in their countries for a period of time and states can therefore compel these citizens to stay. But Brock indicates that compulsory service programmes for skilled citizens …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • i You might say: it is too demanding to expect all public policies to meet these stringent evidentiary standards. Perhaps, but the burden of proof is high for policies that restrict valuable freedoms.

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