CBS survey: Israel losing academics to brain drain

Central Bureau of Statistics survey finds 20% of those who received PhDs in math from Israeli academia moved abroad.

December 27, 2012 02:36
1 minute read.
Students at Tel Aviv University

Students at Tel Aviv University 370. (photo credit: Danielle Ziri)


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Twenty percent of those who received PhDs in math from Israeli higher learning institutions from 1985 to 2005 had been living abroad for at least three years as of 2011, according to a survey released this week by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The number of graduates from Israeli academia had steadily increased from 21,000 in 1985 to 106,000 in 2005. The study focused on the 360,000 Israelis who obtained academic degrees during that 20-year period.

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As of 2011, 4.9 percent of them had been living outside of Israel for three or more years. The percentage of those who left the country is even higher among those with PhDs – 10.5%. The percentage of those with medical degrees who left the country as of last year stands at 7.2%.

In 2011, 6.7% of those with medical degrees or PhDs in math and engineering returned to Israel.

Among those with bachelor’s degrees, 4.8% of them sought employment abroad as did 4.2% of those with master’s degrees.

The data also showed that the percentage of PhDs in scientific fields and in engineering who lived abroad for over three years is close to four times higher than that of PhDs in social sciences, and most of those graduated from universities not colleges.

Out of the seven Israeli universities, the Weizmann Institute of Science has the most graduates – 17.8% – going abroad, and Bar-Ilan University the least – 2.9%.


The survey also noted that more men than women seek employment abroad and many immigrants – and Americans in particular – do as well.

The percentage of those leaving Israel after receiving an academic degree is also higher among Christians and Jews than Muslim and Druse graduates.

According to CBS, the occurrence of brain drain only increases in the years following students’ graduation from bachelor’s or master’s degree programs.

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