In relation to an Australian statement that there would be "brain drain" from Australia to the UK should a visa-free worker system be adopted between the two countries...

Surely, both Australia and the UK already have in place immigration systems that allow some skilled workers to migrate between the two countries. So a visa-free system would perhaps accelerate trends that already exist, by reducing [procedural] friction in (skilled) worker movement.

Furthermore, given that some Australian cities like Sydney and Melbourne have comparable [if not slightly higher] average salaries (even after cost of housing is subtracted) compared to London, I expect that (skilled) worker flows would be bidirectional between the UK and Australia, and probably are so even today. This doesn't exclude the possibility that there would be a net flow in one direction after the bidirectional/gross flows are subtracted. (As for data elsewhere in relation to the last issue I mentioned [gross vs net flows], net flows even inside the US [internal migration, as it is technically called] are only about a tenth of the gross flows, i.e. a lot more US residents migrate (internally) even from rich to poorer areas in the US than the net "drain" flows affecting population distribution in the long run; see box 1 [p. 4] in a recent CEPS/ECOFIN paper, for example.)

So, are there summary statistics available on the gross and net flows of skilled workers (in the recent past) between Australia and the UK?

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    Wages aren’t the only reason to migrate - the UK is losing a lot of doctors and nurses to Canada, Australia and New Zealand because of the hostility and overwork in the NHS right now. The working situation in those three countries are much much better for doctors and nurses, and the pay is often significantly higher. But most doctors leaving the UK for Australia is doing it because of the political situation in the NHS.
    – user16741
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 23:30
  • @Moo: well, if you have actual migration figures just for NHS personnel (to and from other Commonwealth countries), that would be informative to see. Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 23:32
  • @Moo: interestingly, I found a paper on NHS doctors going to New Zealand... where they don't like it much either, most leaving NZ after one year. Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 23:48
  • It’s not very recent but I think this is a good overview/appraisal of Australia’s healthcare system: theconversation.com/… Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 21:39
  • The following is very much worth noting here (the “Personnel” website quoted may not be entirely accurate). Guardian Australia in their story about the same issue noted this correction, “This article was amended on 8 January 2020. An earlier version said Simon Birmingham feared visa-free travel would prompt a brain drain from Australia and an influx of low-skilled workers to some Australian cities. This stemmed from an incorrect media report from Sydney. The reference has been removed.” Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 0:10


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