Saturday, January 7, 2023

Belarus Also Wrestling with Brain Drain Problem

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 6 – Especially since Vladimir Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, an action that sparked a massive outflow of young Russians who do not want to serve in that war, there has been a great deal of attention to the risk that the Russian Federation faces because of a brain drain.

            But Russia is far from the only country in the former Soviet space which faces that problem. Belarus does as well; and a newly published article based on a survey conducted in 2019 suggests that Minsk may be able to hold scholars in the hard sciences but is unlikely to be willing to take the steps necessary to retain those in the humanities and social sciences.

            That is because, the study’s author, Olga Voroshel of the Minsk Institute of Sociology says, graduate students in the hard sciences say that higher pay and better financing of their fields will keep them in Belarus while students in the humanities and social sciences are more inclined to be affected by the isolation of that country internationally.

            The study, “The Migration Intentions of Graduate Students of the Academic Sector of Science: A Sociological Analysis,” appeared in the latest Belarusian sociological almanac ( Its findings are discussed at

            Voroshel’s conclusions that students in the hard sciences are more likely to be swayed by more money than anything else while those in the humanities and social sciences are more likely to decide whether to emigrate depending on social and political conditions are obviously applicable to Russia as well.

            And they suggest that countries like Russia and Belarus are likely to be able to slow or stop outmigration of young people working in hard science far more easily than they will be able to achieve the same with regard to students in the humanities and social sciences, a finding that gives texture to discussions about brain drains from such countries.


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