(2017) South African Journal of Philosophy. Volume 36 (1).
This paper proposes two shifts in our approach to the brain drain crisis. First, it argues for a collective view. Since the moral wrong of the brain drain is inherently collective, we can best understand our consequent duties through a collective lens. Second, the paper argues that we ought to explore explicitly the duties of citizens of source states. These citizens systematically bear the burdens of labour migration, giving us good reason to search for normative guidelines for how best to understand and distribute these burdens. Drawing on these two shifts, the paper argues that the obligations of citizens of source states are best understood as individual shares of a collective duty to uphold the functioning of their state. The content of this duty is deeply shaped by background injustice and so ought to be understood as a duty to “take up the slack”. As such, individuals’ shares are differentiated to respect the diversity of individual circumstance and, where formal policy is required, it ought to be democratically determined.