84% of Zimbabweans abroad left the country in search of jobs – 86% have lower secondary education


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An overwhelming number of Zimbabweans who have left the country have done so to look for jobs and most of them have less than lower secondary education, the World Bank says

In a blog published yesterday, the bank says 84% of those who left Zimbabwe went to look for jobs and 86% had less than lower secondary education dismissing the myth of brain drain.

The report says only 16% of those that left the country had secondary or tertiary education and most of these left for the developed world.

Below is the full blog:

Magnifying the gains from migration in Zimbabwe

By Eneida FernandesDhiraj Sharma

The recent World Development Report proposes a simple framework to analyze cross-border migration. It juxtaposes the motive for migration and the “match” between migrants’ attributes and the destination country’s needs. People may migrate voluntarily in search of better economic opportunities, or they may be forced to leave for fear of persecution, conflict, or violence. Depending on their level of education, work experience, skills, or other attributes, migrants may be a good or poor fit for the destination country’s labor market. This simple two-by-two matrix creates a typology of migrants and provides a useful analytical scaffolding to think about migration (Figure 1).

As we celebrate International Migrants Day, we apply this framework to understand the migration choices and outcomes in Zimbabwe and consider the policies needed to magnify the gains from migration. 

Motivation for migration in Zimbabwe

The primary reason Zimbabweans migrate is in search of economic opportunities. The most recent evidence comes from the Zimbabwe 2022 Population and Housing Census (PHC). Of the approximately 908,000 emigrants counted in the census, a large majority–84%–had left the country in search of employment, while another 5% had migrated for education or training (ZIMSTAT, 2023). Other nationally representative data validate this pattern. For example, the 2017 Poverty, Income, Consumption, Expenditure Survey (PICES) shows that 15% of households had at least one member living abroad, and most of them (90%) had left in search of employment (Zimbabwe Poverty Assessment, World Bank, 2022). Many of those who are still in the country also have considered leaving. For example, the 2017 Afrobarometer survey showed that almost half (47%) of adults in Zimbabwe have either considered emigration, are planning to move within two years, or are preparing to move. In contrast to voluntary migration for economic reasons, the number of people who are forcibly displaced from Zimbabwe is comparatively small.

Migrant matching

Do Zimbabwean migrants have the education and skills to match the labor market demands in destination countries? This information can be gleaned from the way in which migrants sort themselves into different destinations according to their level of education. Among those who emigrate to other countries in southern Africa, the vast majority (86%) have less than lower secondary education (Figure 2). The education profile of migrants who go farther afield is markedly different. Among those who are elsewhere in the continent, a majority (52%) have secondary or tertiary level of schooling. Those who migrate to the global north such as the UK, other European countries, or the USA are the most educated. Among them, fully three-fifths have tertiary education.

Continued next page

(85 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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