Low salaries causing Israel's 'brain drain'

brain drain 88 (photo credit: )
brain drain 88
(photo credit: )
Israelis with higher degrees between the ages of 25-40 are leaving the country for better-paying jobs with more opportunities in Europe and the US, according to a new study released Wednesday by the Shalem Center. The study, which took place between 1995-2002, found that 4 percent - or one in 25 - of people with a master's degree or higher are leaving Israel. "These young and educated professionals have realized that they have much better options outside Israel," said Dr. Omer Moav, a professor at Hebrew University. He and Dr. Eric Gould, also from Hebrew University, coauthored the study through the Social and Economic Institute at the Shalem Center. Moav said Israel, along with Greece and Italy, was lagging behind global trends of increasing incentives for young professionals to stay in their home country. He said Israelis in particular are less likely to return after getting advanced degrees abroad. "Globalization happened," Moav said. "People have choices relating to how high their skill levels are. The Israeli administration simply ignored when that happened, and are not willing to do anything to make it better." Dr. Josh Angrist, an economics professor at MIT, said he used to teach at Hebrew University before he left to return to the United States. "I was tired of the situation here," Angrist said. "The Israeli system does not reflect the reality of pay differential by field. It's the public system and it's not very flexible." Using university professors as an example of these problems, he said professors in high-demand fields like computer science and economics made the same amount of money as those in lower-demand fields like literature. In other countries, however, the market decides professors' salaries. "Talented people who might like to work in Israel have to pay a high price for that financially," he said. "It's hard to retain people with that kind of system." MK Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP) said Israel should provide more incentives for keeping such people in the country. "We don't have oil or gold, but we have all these bright people," Orlev told The Jerusalem Post. "It's a shame to lose them. People are the most valuable things we have." Orlev said many people sought work outside Israel because it paid better, but said money could not replace the Zionist connection to the land, language and culture that many people have with Israel. "We need to be a light for the other nations from Israel, not from the Diaspora," Orlev said in a press release.