There are a lot of people working in universities in countries like Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, and so on with low salaries. Those people have high skills and education.

I saw some students pursuing PhDs in those countries with low salaries when they can just cross the border to earn much more.

Why don't most of them migrate to Western Europe?

What factors bind them in their countries?

  • $\begingroup$ @mootmoot, that is what EU was for. $\endgroup$ – user18806 Jul 17 '18 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ @mootmoot, doesn't make sense. someone has to pay taxes irrespective of his job location. $\endgroup$ – user18806 Jul 17 '18 at 15:56

There are numerous reasons why one would want to stay in a particular country even though earning power is lower. These are usually summarized as "frictions" in the labor market.

Culture, familiarity with an area, language, family are all non-negligible "frictions".

I note that while there will be a tendency to vote this closed as not economic, I think the reminder that there are meaningful human incentives other than money and tangible goods may be worth remembering.

  • $\begingroup$ I guess, only two factors are to be noted: (1) language, (2) personal motivation. Even (1) depends on (2). There could be no other factors. $\endgroup$ – user18806 Jul 17 '18 at 7:30

Occupational licensing may be one reason why:

Occupational licensing is not unique to the United States. Based on information gathered in 2012 from the then twenty- seven nations in the European Union (EU), between 9 and 24 percent of European workers are subject to occupational licensing, which translates to between 19 million and 51 million individuals. These estimates of the share of the workforce that is licensed, even at the higher end, are still lower than the estimated share in the United States, which is slightly under 30 percent (Koumenta et al. 2014). Similar to U.S. states, the extent of occupational licensing varies widely across countries in the EU: Bulgaria, Estonia,
Finland, France, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, and Sweden all have less than 15 percent of their workers covered by occupational licensing (Koumenta et al. 2014). Regulation is much more prevalent in other countries, however: at least 25 percent of the workforce in Denmark and Germany, for example, is regulated, and rates are also high in Italy and Spain.

Reforming Occupational Licensing Policies Morris M. Kleiner (2015)

"We also find evidence that intra-EU migrants are less likely to be found in regulated occupations." Occupational Regulation in the EU andUK: Prevalence and Labour Market Impacts Koumenta, Humphris, Kleiner, and Pagliero (2014)

This channel disproportionately benefits richer and more skilled workers (at least in the USA)

[L]icensing can shift resources from workers with lower-income and fewer skills to those with higher income and skills. Data show that 52 percent of licensed workers hold a Bachelor’s degree, compared to 38 percent of unlicensed workers. Lower-income workers are less likely to be able to afford the tuition and lost wages associated with licensing’s educational requirements, closing the door to many licensed jobs for them. It is also lower-income workers who are hurt if wages fall in unlicensed jobs, since on average, unlicensed workers earn 28 percent less than licensed workers. OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING:A FRAMEWORK FOR POLICYMAKERS (USA (2015))

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 And even if there were no occupational licensing, skills and knowledge relevant to one country may not be wholly transferable to another. Eg someone with an established career as a lawyer in Poland would probably need considerable re-training to be effective as a lawyer in the UK. $\endgroup$ – Adam Bailey Jul 16 '18 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ Do a university professor or a Ph.D. student need occupational licensing? I guess not. This answer is a trivial one. Law and medical are highly specialized areas. $\endgroup$ – user18806 Jul 17 '18 at 7:28

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