Causes of the Brain Drain in the Last 10 Years

Steven Morales Morales 

The term ‘Brain-drain’ has recently come into vogue for describing the flight of talent from our country to another. Often, it is loosely employed to describe all migration of educated and talented persons to countries abroad in search of better careers even though their services may be badly needed in their native land, and thus, this exodus of talent, depletes a country’s intellectual resources and tells on national life.

Puerto Rico’s population continues to decline and lost another 19,100 residents between April 2010 and July this year, according to estimates offered by the Census Bureau of the United States. The wave of Puerto Ricans leaving the country is growing and, after the loss of population shown in the 2010 Census, the island continues to lose young, educated and productive Puerto Ricans. The figure is alarming since 176,000 Puerto Ricans have left Puerto Rico in six years 2005 and 2010 and, according to experts, this number may be higher. Only in 2010, the migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States amounted to 28,000.

Puerto Rico has a unique situation that is a factor for the increase in migration, you are able to travel freely to the United States with just an ID from Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, and make up about 1.3% of the total population of the United States. Having the access to move freely to the U.S. is a tempting offer to Boricuas looking for an opportunity to find a better job.

Juan Navarro, student at UPRM, said “When I graduate I will move to the United States to find an employment. In a survey at the University Of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez 9 out of 10 of students said no when asked if they wanted to stay in Puerto Rico and 1 out of 10 of the same students said that they want to go migrate to the United States if given the opportunity to go anywhere else in the world, the other eight wanted to go to Europe if it was as easy moving to the U.S.

Puerto Rico’s per capita murder rate is six times that of the U.S. as a whole. And with violence escalating, many residents are considering joining the thousands of others who have already fled the island for brighter and safer opportunities. PR Crime rate is not worse than that of any US major city. However and unfortunately PR rank #6 in homicides in the US. The great majority of murders are drug related and violence against a Tourist has been so far very rare.  There is no hiding that Puerto Rico as spot for the drugs route between Latin America and USA, has a drug related crimes problem.

 “I had to take my brother to soccer practice that day but I told I couldn’t pick him up so he had to walk home. He told me it was okay. I had to do some projects for school so I couldn’t pick him up. It was getting kind of late so I called my brother to see if he got home but he didn’t pick up, so I called my father to see if he got home but he was still at work at didn’t answer either. I took a break and went to see if my brother was okay. I went to the soccer field and there was nobody. I kept driving home and on the way I saw police cars on the way. I looked out the mirror and saw my brother covered in blood, I stopped the car and ran to him. I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was my fault I repeated to myself. I let him walk alone by himself. From that day I knew that I could not stay in Puerto Rico anymore. I wanted to stay in Puerto Rico with my friends and family but I just could not stay in Puerto Rico knowing that my little brother was killed in my precious Island. It was better for me to go enlist in the Navy,” said Jean Torres, Marine.

 

The economy in Puerto Rico is one of the main factors of the brain drain In Puerto Rico. One more factor deserves consideration. After a promising young-man has completed his training, he usually expects work which should not only bring in enough money and other emoluments but also give him sufficient professional satisfaction. Professionals in Puerto Rico make around $25,000 a year, give or take a thousand or two. Day care centers and private schools cost $600 or $700 a month. Typical car payment for a new car is about $500 a month. Many are falling behind in mortgage and other loans. Many Puerto Ricans have arrived in Florida in the past two years, it’s hard to tell. But government estimates show some 65,000 are leaving the island each year. The island’s government has largely ignored the problem, because it offers a safety valve for an economy that experts say shrank by 2 percent last year.

 

Studies show at least 200,000 of Puerto Rico’s 4 million people moved to Florida from 2000 to 2006. About half of Florida’s nearly 700,000 Puerto Ricans live in Central Florida, particularly the Orlando area. That’s close to one million! But census figures do not reflect the wave that began two years ago, when a budget crisis forced the Puerto Rican government to shut down for several weeks. More than 70,000 people were temporarily furloughed, so it was not long before nurses, doctors and police officers joined the teachers and out-of-work public servants who headed for Florida.  Then gas prices climbed, and people saw their electric bills reach as high as $1,000 a month. Government statistics show food prices have increased 12 percent this year, and housing 15 percent. People generally will search a higher income to accommodate their living. In this case, the high-level of educated workers mostly can get higher income in the developed countries. So education is one of the most important reasons to answer this brain drain phenomenon.

“Butterflies have always had wings; people have always had legs. While history is marked by the hybridity of human societies & the desire for movement, the reality of most of migration today reveals the unequal relations between rich & poor, between North and South, between whiteness and its others.”  ― Harsha Walia, Undoing Border Imperialism

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