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An Empirical Investigation of the Effects of Brain Drain on Developing Countries since 21st Century: A Case of Afghanistan | OMICS International
ISSN: 2167-0234
Journal of Business & Financial Affairs
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An Empirical Investigation of the Effects of Brain Drain on Developing Countries since 21st Century: A Case of Afghanistan

Mujeeb URR*

Graduate School of Economics and Management, Ural Federal University Yekaterinburg, Russia

*Corresponding Author:
Mujeeb URR
Graduate School of Economics and Management
Ural Federal University Yekaterinburg, Russia
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: May 06, 2017; Accepyed date: June 07, 2017; Published date: June 17, 2017

Citation: Mujeeb URR (2017) An Empirical Investigation of the Effects of Brain Drain on Developing Countries since 21st Century: A Case of Afghanistan. J Bus Fin Aff 6: 269. doi: 10.4172/2167-0234.1000269

Copyright: © 2017 Mujeeb URR. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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The purpose of this study is to find out the factors behind the flood of Afghan migrants the world witnessed during the past couple of years. After the withdrawal of some portion of US and NATO forces in 2014, people of Afghanistan suffered mainly from continued security concerns which ultimately stimulated migration of young minds at large but this is not the only factor we analyzed during the process. The push factors such as cost of weddings in some parts of Afghanistan is a profound problem and it was observed from the investigation of the sample population as a stimulus for youth to go abroad to work and save money for getting married. We investigated the unemployment factor on brain drain from Afghanistan on a large scale. This factor clearly proved to be the major driver of migration based on the results obtained in this empirical study. Furthermore, each year thousands of students leave Afghanistan to study in different parts of the world on scholarship. We investigated the role of educational scholarships on motivating youth to leave Afghanistan and their probability to return back to their homeland. It was demonstrated through the analysis of sample data that mostly those students who travel abroad for study purposes do not return back to Afghanistan, thereby creating a vacuum in terms of productive young minds. In addition, Social pressure is a common influence on people’s behavior within the different communities in Afghanistan. We analyzed the relationship between people adopting the path of migration with social pressures from society. The analysis of the data showed a positive relationship of the societal pressures on the youth leaving country. The nature of research for my study is based on quantitative methodology. This research targeted mainly the Afghan population living overseas because these are the people who are most affected one way or the other by some internal factors that’s why they migrated. We have also included citizen’s views that live within Afghanistan in order to understand prospects of migration from the participants. However, a convenience sampling method was used in this study as specific people were targeted that we believe would take part in the survey. Social Media such as Facebook and Vkontakte was used to deliver the questionnaires to the respondents. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) statistical models such as Chi square test, binomial probability test, and a one sample test were used to test the hypotheses statements. A pairwise test was used to rank the factors in terms of major influence on migration.


Brain drain; Afghanistan; Weddings; Cronback alpha; Social pressure


Brain drain definition: It is the phenomenon in which skilled labor of a country flees to another country in order to earn better living.

Every year many developed countries has a policy in which they announce education scholarships to attract competent students from under developed countries which latter can become an asset for the guest country [1].

Migration: National and International Aspects

Policy of states regarding immigration

Iranian government policy towards Afghans: Iran has been one of the biggest stake holders after Pakistan for retaining Afghan refugees. Iran ministry of interior is responsible for the affairs of foreign nationals in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign affairs and the ministry of labor.

Refugee matters are handled by the Ministry’s Bureau of Aliens and Foreign Immigrant Affairs (BAFIA), established in the early 1980s.

In 1976, Iran approved the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol with reservations regarding Articles 17 (wage earning employment), 23 (public relief), 24 (labor legislation and social security), and 26 (freedom of movement). The provisions in the Refugee Convention regarding the above Articles are meant to ensure in large measure the equality of treatment of refugees with nationals. For instance, Article 24 is meant to ensure that the refugees are covered by national labor law and also entitled to social security on par with nationals [2].

German immigration policy: German is most desired country for migrants after United States. In January 2005, Germany introduced an immigration policy through which scientists and professionals from different walk of life can be attracted to the German labor market.

In April 2012, European blue card legislation was implemented in Germany which allows highly skilled professionals from non-European countries after fulfilling certain conditions easily find job and live in the Germany [3]. As for as refugees are concern, Germany recognizes the rights of those people as a refugee who faces a serious life threat in their country or has a fear of prosecution due to their religion or nationality. According to article 39 on citizenship treaty on European Union, people from all European Union member countries have the right to obtain job in Germany free from discrimination.

People from Non-European countries can only migrate to Germany if they are skilled.

Germany has three types of immigration titles:

1) 90 days’ temporary visa

2) Residence permits

3) Settlement permits.

Demographics of Germany according to Federal Statistical Office of Germany as per the year 2015, Afghanistan ranks in 20th (Table 1).

Rank Countries Population
1 Turkey 1,506,113
2 Poland 740,962
3 Italy 596,127
4 Romania 452,718
5 Syria 366,556
6 Greece 339,931
7 Croatia 297,895
8 Serbia 260.212
9 Russia 230,994
10 Bulgaria 226,926
11 Kosovo 208,619
12 Austria 181,756
13 Hungry 178,221
14 Bosnia and Herzegovina 167,975
15 Spain 155,918
16 Netherlands 147,322
17 Iraq 136,399
18 Portugal 133,929
19 Ukraine 133,774
20 Afghanistan 131,454

Table 1: Ranking of countries on Migration (2015).

France immigration policy: France has been one of the friendly immigrant countries in Europe. The ministry of foreign affairs of France controls the flow of immigrants. In comparison with the other European countries, France has a strict policy regarding residence permit. The residence permit in France is called the carte de séjour. If you are a non-EU citizen, in order to stay in France for more than 3 months, people need a temporary residence permit, skills and talents residence card or retired residence permit [4].

France gives asylum to those people who fears of persecution in their country due to the race, religion or person belong to a political group.

Application for asylum status is processed by the French office for protection of refugees and expatriates. After the OFPRA (French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons) issues a certificate of deposit of the request, the petitioner must go to the place where he/ she lives, which will issue a receipt of request for asylum which is valid for three months [5].

Britain immigration policy: Immigrants adopt different ways to arrive to Britain such as;

• Family of person already obtained nationality status, can invite other members of the family to Britain.

• Stay in Britain for long term work.

• Students who have received scholarship to study in Britain or want to study on self-finance basses.

• Temporary workers or people coming to Britain for the purpose of recreation.

Asylum is awarded to those people with some expertise in a selected area. Simply a young applicant with a doctorate and proof of high earnings will have more chances of acceptance than someone who is less skilled - and therefore find it's easier for them to come to the UK (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Changes in Systematic Risk following the Terrorist Attacks in France.

Since 2001 the world witnessed continues increase in migration. Afghanistan is 2nd to Syria in terms people leaving their homes for Europe or other countries [6] (Table 2).

Area (km2), 2015 6,52,860
Population (millions), 2015 33
Population density (people per, 2015 49.82
Population ages 0-14 (% of total), 2015 44
Population ages 15-64 (% of total), 2015 53.5
Employment to population ratio, 15+ (%), 2016 43.3
GDP per capita ($), 2015 619.8
GNI PPP per capita ($), 2009 860
Economic Growth (%), 2013 3.9
Unemployment (%), 2015 40
Population living in less than a dollar per day (millions) 9
People living under national poverty line (%), 2007/8 36
Literacy rate 38.2
Annual number of school graduate, 2013 2,66,000
University graduates, 2016 6,56,257
Net migration rate out of 1000 (2016 estimated) 1.2

Table 2: Population Statistics [7].

Afghanistan in brief

Afghanistan is geographically land locked country within south and central Asia. The population of Afghanistan is approximately 33 million. It ranks 42 in terms of most populous country in the world. It has about 2430 km border with Pakistan making it the biggest border with its neighbors. Afghanistan has a border with Pakistan in the south and east; on its western side is Iran. On north the border is connected with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, china is located in the Fareast border with Afghanistan. It covers an area of 652860 square km. It ranks 41, in terms of largest countries in the world.

As per 2015 statistics 2.7 million Afghans are still living as refugees in Pakistan and Iran. 2013 statistics shows that 46% of the Afghan population are under the age of 15 and 74% of the population in the rural population. The average birth rate for a single woman is 5 during her life.

Afghanistan is diverse country based on ethnicity, linguistically and religiously. Pashtun is largest and politically strongest ethnic group in Afghanistan. It makes up 42% of the population of Afghanistan. The other major ethnic groups are Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, Aimaq, Baloch and others.

Pashto and Dari are the two official languages of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is divided into 34 provinces administratively and every province has its own capital and provincial administration. Several decades of war and its complexities within different ethnics has made Afghanistan one of the poorest countries in the world. Until 2014, the country’s GDP was $60.58 billion. As per 2012, the total exports were $2.7 billion. The unemployment rate was 35% reported in 2008. According to a report in 2009, around 42% of the population lives on less than a dollar per day. The external debt for Afghanistan totals $1.5. Due to the inclusion of remittances from Afghan expats from abroad and international aid has grown 10% annually since last decade. Agriculture is the back-bone of the nation’s economy. Da Afghanistan bank is the central bank of Afghanistan and Afghani is used as nation’s currency.

One of the forces which brought improvement in the economy was over 5 million Afghan expatriates who brought with them energy, education entrepreneurship skills and the capital needed to start business. As per the human development index, Afghanistan is 5th least developed country in the world. For both male and female, the average life expectancy is estimated to be around 60 years.

The literacy rate of Afghanistan has been very low but since numerous schools are been made throughout Afghanistan, it is increasing. Education is one of the tools which can bring development and economic revival in Afghanistan [7].

Greater enrollments in education determines the degree of societal stability which is a dream that yet to be accomplished. 40% of Afghan children does not go to school as per the UNICEF report [8].

Research objectives

It has been more than 4 decades that Afghanistan is confronted to devastations mostly due to internal conflicts which has resulted in human flight in millions in many sections of the world.

Afghanistan government has taken some steps to stop this phenomenon in recent past. Social media and electronic media were used as a tool to disseminate Afghan Government’s Campaign to curb brain drain.

This research is conducted to understand the reasons for Afghans that has caused them to flee to other countries [9].

The aim of this study concerns the following objectives:

• To find out the dominant factors that caused brain drain.

• To know, is there any role of unemployment in losing the trained people (brain drain).

• To explore how much part is played by social pressure in pushing people to leave country.

• To understand uncertainty factors causing brain drain.

• To explore wedding constraints as a push factor on brain drain.

• To recognize Educational scholarships part in brain drain.

• To analyze the role of job opportunities from abroad or job attractions on people departing from country.

• To understand the Demographics of the population sample.

Origin of migration from Afghanistan

Migration before 1979: Movement of large number of people from Afghanistan is not a recent history. Records show that Afghans has been migrating to Pakistan and Iran since centuries. As a result of the natural disasters in 1850s, thousands of people from Northern Areas of Afghanistan migrated to Iran aimed taking shelter. In Area of Torbate- Jam Iran, it is known that some 15,000 migrants from Afghanistan have been settled between 1880 and 1903 [10].

In the last centuries, Afghanistan has not been under good economic prosperity. For the reason that, there was not enough industries built in the country which caused widespread unemployment in Afghanistan.

As a result of Oil boom large labor market from Afghanistan were compelled to move to Iran, Pakistan and other Middle Eastern Countries in 1973 for work [11].

When large number of Pashtuns in the currently named KPK area of Pakistan migrated to Oil rich gulf countries, this provided a good opportunity for Afghans labors to work in Pakistan [12].

In the same time, high wages in the Islamic republic of Iran and increase in taxes in Afghanistan, labors were induced to move to Iran. As a result of that, before soviet Occupation of Afghanistan thousands of Afghan migrants were present in Iran [13].

Labors from Afghanistan migrated to Iran and Pakistan were welcomed because they migrated legally and also provided them with the cheap labor. The Afghans in Iran were mostly working in bricks industry and construction and were receiving very low remuneration as compared to Iranian citizens.

This indicates that instead of devoting their capabilities that these migrants exhibited, were unfortunately wasted because of many reasons whatsoever [14].

Migration at the time of Soviet Union invasion (1979): The first large migration from Afghanistan happened in 1979 at the time of soviet invasion. In the following 10 years, because of resistance against Soviet Forces on the side of Mujahedeen, masses on large number from Afghanistan flee to Pakistan and to the Islamic Republic of Iran [13].

Due to their culture and language similarity and because of common boundaries with the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan, these refugees had nowhere to go but to these countries [14]. Refugees were mostly from villages where people had to escape because of bombings and targeted killings [15].

During the years of war 1979 and 1989, approximately 2.6 million people escaped to Iran to take shelter where they were welcomed by the Iran Authorities and were given “blue card” which reminded them of the refugee and gave them the right to get education, healthcare and food. They were also given the permission to work on a low wage. They were called “Mohajerin” which means involuntary religious migrant. The people migrated to Iran were belonged to Hazara community mostly who are Shia sect largely which is also the official religion of Iran. It was considered the duty of every Iranian to help their religious brothers and sisters. Out of 2.6 million migrated to Iran because of soviet invasion, only 5-10% were contained in Refugee camps and the remaining were settled in cities and villages of eastern part of country [16].

The intensity of war after the soviet invasion also effected Pakistan where according to one statistics between 1979 and 1989, 1.5 million people crossed the border to Pakistan.

The Pashtun tribes living on both sides of the border has strong ties. These tribes share religious, culture, language and some family relationship in which one brother is living across the border in Pakistan and other brother’s family is living Afghanistan.

The war between the rival parties between 1981 and 1985 were heightened which compelled large population to leave the country and take shelter in Pakistan. The people migrated to Pakistan were mostly living in Refugee camps as compared with the refugees fled to Iran. Government of Pakistan at that time used these refugee camps as a base to train and brain wash the people to fight against the Soviet Union forces.

During the Soviet occupation between 1980 and 1985 the net migration rate of Afghanistan’s population was -56.7/1000 persons [17].

The government of Pakistan were happy because they were receiving extensive amount of financial assistance from international community for these refugees. That’s why they were kept in the refugee camps with the miserable lives to portray their condition. The United States were also involved in this game and was in search to find ways to defeat his rival mighty Soviet Union forces to establish an Islamic government in Afghanistan that can be controlled.

In 1989 Soviet Union withdrew their forces from Afghanistan. After that, the war of control over Kabul started between Mujahedeen. As a result of that again huge population migrated to Pakistan.

More than 6 million Afghans migrated to Pakistan in 1990 due to bombing and combat especially in rural areas of Afghanistan.

By that time, Afghans were the biggest group of displaced people thorough out the world, almost half of the total population in Afghanistan [18].

Migration at the Time of Taliban Rule (1992): Pakistan back Taliban in1992 took control of the government in Kabul. This was the time when 2nd biggest migration of the history of Afghans took place. The middle class and considerably educated people fled to Pakistan and Iran.

Compare to the first migration in these countries, they were not welcomed by the government of Pakistan and Iran. This time Pakistan and Iran governments were not able to attract good financial assistance from International Community. At the same time, international community didn’t give their attention to the issues in Afghanistan [13].

In 1990, the first voluntary repatriation program in Pakistan was established. In 1992, under tripartite agreement between Iran, Afghanistan and UNHCR, the first repatriation of Afghan refugees started [18].

During 1993 and onwards, the government of Iran provided temporary cards to the newly and undocumented migrated refugees. This time they were not given those rights which they were obliged in the first migration at the time of soviet regime invasion in Afghanistan.

They were named “panadehandegan” which carried lower status as compared to the past [16].

In 1994, Taliban intensified their combat against the Northern allies which resulted once again the flow of people to Pakistan and the Islamic republic of Iran and continued till 2000. Between 1991 and 2000, over 300,000 Afghan refugees migrated to Pakistan. These events helped to explain the negative net migration of -6.5/1000 persons [16]. However, this time UNHCR stopped their food assistance to these refugees which compelled them to look for work in rural areas [17].

Migration at the end rule of Taliban regime (2001): During the invasion of US on Afghanistan to end the Talban regime in 2001, the 3rd largest scale of migration of people from Afghanistan occurred. The 9/11 attacks in America caused much attention of international community towards Afghanistan.

Despite of worse security situation in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan tried to decrease the number of refugees living in their countries. In addition, Islamic Republic of Iran tried to implement a policy on their citizens which did not allow them to hire the Afghan Refugees [18].

Pakistan also put some solid steps and closed many refugee camps. Force deportation of these refugees started during this period. Although the intensity of deportation in Iran was high than Pakistan [13].

In 2002, UNHCR started their assisted voluntary return program for Afghan refugee living in the Islamic of Iran and Pakistan [19]. Due the UNHCR efforts more than 1.5 million refugee returned from Pakistan and 250,000 from the Islamic Republic of Iran concurrently. The UNHCR also extended their assistance where returnees were given cash support to cover transport cost.

Currently 1.3 million registered and about 2.6 million unregistered Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. While this number in Iran ranges from 0.9 million registered and about 2 million unregistered refugees [20].

Major occupation of afghan refugees in Iran

Almost the entire refugees fled to Iran without any formal migration system in order to safeguard their family. According to one research conducted by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) which pinpoints the irregular behavior towards the Afghan migrants in both countries Iran and Pakistan. Iran showed reservations on protocol of 1951convention of refugees which restricted the refugees to a lowincome occupation. Thus, the right of living as a refugee in Iran was given to a very few number of people. Those people who lived in Iran for 20 or odd years were given a temporary permission to stay in Iran. Therefore, it created an environment which had an impact on both the Afghan workers and the local employees [21].

The sample data from the afghan refugee population indicated high activity for the male population of age between 10 and above was 64%, the female population which constitute 41% of the total migrated people out of which only 8.2% was employed [21] (Figure 2 and Table 3).

Activity Male Female Total
Employed 2191 253 2444
Unemployed 90 69 159
Total 2281 322 2603

Table 3: Afghan Labor Force by Sex [21].


Figure 2: Afghan Population working activity [21].

Approximately 80% of the total Afghan population in Iran was working in three sectors, manufacturing, construction and trade and commerce. Less 10% of the population was working in agriculture sector.

In contrast to Iranians who would work in public sector, the Afghan labor use to work for long hours, without insurance and regulations and relatively on low wages.

The working tendency of Afghans in Iran which was distributed into three sectors indicates that the Afghans are less involved in Agriculture sector and more in manufacturing which is about 30% of the sampled population. The construction sector which requires less skill is a source of income for major population (Table 4).

Branch of economic activity Male Female Total
Agriculture 9.9 5.9 9.5
Manufacturing 26.2 58.9 29.6
Construction 28.6 1.2 25.8
Wholesale, retail and trade 25.1 2.8 22.8
Transport and communication 2.9 0 2.6
Other services 7.2 31.2 9.5
Total % 100 100 100
Total Number 2191 253 2444

Table 4: Afghans Currently Employed by Sex and Branch of Economic Activity (%) [21].

The average hours per week for Afghan labors in Iran 51.3% for men and 30 hours for women and the total hours in a week is 49 hours (Figure 3).


Figure 3: Hours per week [21].

The distribution of Afghan employees according to employment status shows that regular worker (39%), casual worker (28%) and selfemployed (23%) (Table 5).

Employment status Male Female Total
Employer 1.7 0 1.5
Self Employed 23.1 15.4 22.3
Unpaid family worker 3.4 7.5 3.8
Private regular worker 39 38.7 39
Seasonal worker 4.7 4.3 4.7
Private casual worker 28.1 34 28.7
Total % 100 100 100
Total number 2191 253 2444

Table 5: Afghans Currently Employed by Sex and Employment Status (%of Total) [21].

The average income of Afghan men employees is 37 USD per week and women earns about 12 USD per week. This big difference of income between men and women is due to difference in working hours and the type of work they do. Men are generally lined to have good level of education which is associated to higher income as compared to women.

Considering the percentage of women took part in the survey is much lower in contrast to men, therefore the analysis of female wages should be considered with caution.

The net earnings of women per week for Afghan women employees are approximately 7.8 USD in the industry sector and 29 USD in the agriculture sector.

Women are put under discrimination as shown by men/women wage ratio which is above 200 [21] (Table 6).

Branch of economic activity Male Female Total M/F ratio
Agriculture 34.75
34.36 121.3
Manufacturing 39.95
33.25 522.7
Construction 38.22
38.16 202.4
Wholesale, retail and trade 34.98
34.73 222.7
Transport and communication 34.11
- 34.11 -
Domestic servants 50.96
- 50.96 -
Other services 33.38
27.56 208.5
Total 37.10
34.45 315.9

Table 6: Average Earnings of Afghan Employed Per Week (US$) by Sex and Branch of Economic Activity [21].

The numbers in parentheses above refer to the number of persons in the particular Branch of economic activity.

Migration of Afghans to Europe

As per the reports of the “international organization for migration” from January 2015 to 27 January 2016, a number of around 1.1 million people arrived to Europe by land and see routes. Afghans are next to Syrians in terms of migrants chose Europe as destiny.

According to European Union statistics 942,400 migrants from Afghanistan have applied for Asylum in different European countries. Similarly, the afghan ministry of Refugees and repatriation said that the number of Afghans applied for Asylum in 44 different European countries exceeds to 250,000 out of which 150,000 are in Germany.

If someone goes to understand the number of Afghans travelled illegally to Europe, they will be surprised to see how this number has mounted in recent couple of years. Study conducted by the European Union which shows that almost 26,215 Afghans claimed Asylum in different European countries in 2013, this number increased to 41,370 and in 2015 it raised to 250,000.

These refugees suffered from numerous difficulties while striving to reach Europe in which many of them gave their lives on their way to Europe. Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations stated that more than 800 migrants sunk in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to cross it on boats to get to Europe.

Due to worse security situation in Afghanistan and other countries in 2015 resulted refugee crisis in Europe. Consequently, many of the European countries strengthen their policy regarding refugees and has tried to send back some of the refugee to their home countries.

Some European countries such as Germany count the Afghan refugees as the economic migrants. Therefore, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel had said that they have started “serious talks” with the Afghan government about the repatriation of the Afghan refugees whose asylum applications were rejected by the German government.

German interior minister on a visit to Kabul said that we have come to an agreement with the Afghan Government according to which the Afghans whose applications for Asylum has been rejected will be sent back to Afghanistan. He further stated that we do not consider Afghans as refugee but we take them as migrants because the security situation in Afghanistan is now better [22].

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Refugees and repatriation, they have welcomed 135 people after rejection of their application for Asylum in Germany. Stated further, rising unemployment is the main reason for leaving Afghanistan and more young people are willing to migrate to other countries because of the poverty and uncertain future [23]. Afghanistan counts in 2nd in terms of rank of countries people migrated from [24] (Figure 4).


Figure 4: Top 10 origins of people applying for asylum in the EU.

According to the same report Hungry comes second in terms of migrants moved their applications for Asylum. It had 177,130 applications by the end of December 2015 (Table 7).

Germany Sweden Italy France Netherlands UK
140,910 32,215 29,615 20,630 16,450 13,905

Table 7: Countries with most asylum acceptance.

Research Methodology Theory and Hypothesis of Brian Drain

Weddings in Afghanistan

Getting marriage in Afghanistan has become a serious problem for youth in Afghanistan. Huge money is involved in booking weddings halls, lavish meals and for bride payment. The groom’s family pay the bride price to her family which varies in different parts of Afghanistan. It is all controversial tradition and doesn’t have basses in Islam. In some sections of society, people mixes tradition with dowry which is has to be paid to bride when her husband dies or gives her divorce. The huge money that has to be paid to bride becomes the cause for groom to own money from people and ultimately he has to either travel to neighbouring countries or far distant countries in order to save money for his debt payments.

Usually, the groom’s family has to initiate the proposal of marriage to bride family and it is up to bride family to reject or to accept. The father of bride or some elder in her family set price to be paid for bride. The amount of money depends on family background, education, age, reputation of the girl. For example the price tag for wedding, especially in Kabul, the common price for wedding is 10,000$.

Examples of bride prices in some provinces are given below (Table 8).

Province Min. AFN Max. AFN Min. USD Max. USD
Maidan Wardak 400,000 800,000 5,900 11,800
Nangarhar 100,000 500,000 1,450 7,245
Loye Paktia (khost,
Paktika and paktia)
1,000,000 1,200,000 14,500 17,390
Farah 800,000 1,500,000 11,800 21,733
Faryab 66,000 135,000 1,000 2,000

Table 8: Bride prices in some provinces.

The high prices for getting in marriage relationship has forced large number of youth to go to Iran, Pakistan, Gulf or European countries to find work in order to pay for their bride price and for their wedding. The effects is on both sides where men has to work for long years sometime and women have to stay awaited till their men come and wed them [25].

According to a survey in Herat and Balkh provinces the range of dowries range between 400$ to 11,000$, the minimum cost on engagement is from 500$ to 2000$, marriage celebration costs people $4,000 to $15,000, the precelebration of marriage costs them $1,500 to $5,000. The total minimum average marriage cost in Herat and Mazar is $10,000 and the maximum average is $33,000 [26].

Overseas jobs

Working abroad is always a dream for professionals. It provides an opportunity for people to explore different cultures and living lifestyles. Working abroad provide them with the experience of meeting new people, learning their language and also earn money that is hard for them to earn in their country [27].

On other side, Afghanistan receives huge amount of money as a remittances from abroad. Although Afghanistan does not share data regarding remittances to IMF. According to the World Bank estimate, 15% of households in Afghanistan receives remittances from abroad.

As per report released by the international fund for Agriculture development, the remittances for Afghanistan in 2006 was 2.5$ which is 30% of the total GDP at that time.

The value of remittances by Afghans from USA and Canada is approximately 75 million dollars which is very significant amount. From Netherland amount $85,085 is sent to Afghanistan in 2008. Afghans living in Germany sent EUR 22 million in 2004. However, this data does not confirm the reliability of the statistics as it is only an indication [28,29].

The World Bank provides data between 2008 and 2013. The table of the summary is given below (Table 9).

Annual migrant remittance inflows- Afghanistan (US$ Million)
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Remittance as share of GDP (%)
104 228 460 460 460 543 *

Table 9: Remittances [29].

Fragile government and neighbouring country’s interventions

Since the start of 21st century, security in Afghanistan is a big challenge for the forces in Power. At the same time, unfortunately Afghans couldn’t witness serious steps on behalf of US government to end the war in Afghanistan because of their own hidden agendas. Besides, there are number of threats that Afghan Government is dealing with.

Internal threats: Without looking to the serious problems in Afghanistan, government is busy in making rivals that may post threat to the existence of the Government. In fact, it is sign of failed states which are unable to control insurgency in their countries. The economic development has been effected by the weak corruption, bad governance and failure in handling internal divisions.

Threats from extremists: Almost all insurgencies in Afghanistan are backed by the extremist followers. Still several extremist groups such as Taliban and others are posing serious threat to the government of Afghanistan.

USA role in counter terrorism: There is a history of repeated mistakes made by US government due to their poor strategy in Afghanistan. Still Afghanistan is looking toward current USA government which has promised that they will change their policy towards Afghanistan. There was strict silence from the current president of the United States in his election campaign which has caused Afghan officials anxious.

Trumps cabinet seemed to show little interest in ending Afghan war. It is still uncertain whether he will continue spending billions of dollars funding in Afghanistan or we see a different roadmap.

Neighbours interventions: There is a long history of interference from Pakistan in destabilizing peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan has an obvious reason for that. There is a long 2600 km controversial border issue between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan is compelled to not allow Afghanistan a developed country because at the end Afghanistan can claim their territory. Apart from Pakistan, other neighbouring countries have its own interests in Afghanistan as well which all together make the scenarios more tense and uncertain [30].

Youth unemployment

After the past continued several decades of war, has caused Afghanistan among the poorest countries in the world. The international community has been keenly participating in reconstruction process of Afghanistan but still the future of Afghanistan economy is uncertain. Each year more than 400,000 students are getting their degrees from universities within and outside Afghanistan and looks for the opportunities in the job market. As per the report of the National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (NRVA) 2007/2008 report, the unemployment rate for men was 10% and 15% for women which were significantly higher than the national unemployment rate which was 7.1%.

Due to lack of limited opportunities in the market youth hunts for the jobs in neighboring countries like Pakistan, Iran and Tajikistan. These Afghans usually become migrant workers as attractive employment option as they can gain good money and learn skills needed in the market.

National statistics

• Youth under the age of 25 show a high rate of unemployment than the population overall (7%): 10% for men and 15% for women.

• This figure rises to 45% if the inactive population under taken into account.

• 75% of employed women work as unpaid family worker (Figure 5).


Figure 5: Afghanistan unemployment rate.

The unemployment index shows variations in unemployment from 2006 to 2016. We can witness a steady movement in unemployment rate from 2006 to 2008 which is around 8% till 2013 but we see a high jump in unemployment rate in 2014 to 25% and then get maximum increase of 40% in 2015. According to a participatory youth survey conducted to understand employment market in Afghanistan, it was found that the labor market is unable to provide job opportunities for graduated youths. As per the survey, only 28.7% of the youth had jobs in hand. The worst effected among the provinces was Badakhshan and Kunduz which had unemployment rates of 88% and 85%, respectively.

According to below table, Afghanistan is the 4th country with highest unemployment rate in the world (Table 10).

Country Last   Previous Highest Lowest % Yearly
Djibouti 54 Dec.2010 59.5 59.5 43.5
Congo 46.10 Dec, 2013 49.1 66.9 45.4
Bosnia and Herzegovina 40.58 Jan, 2017 40.87 46.1 39.03
Afghanistan 40.00 Dec, 2015 25 40 8
Kenya 40.00 Dec, 2011 12.7 40 12.7
Kosovo 32.90 Dec, 2015 35.3 57 30
Gambia 29.80 Dec, 2013 22 29.8 6
Yemen 29.00 Dec, 2011 17.8 29 13.7

Table 10: Unemployment rate in the world.

Country-Wise Distribution of Afghan-Immigrants in some parts of the World Between to 2000 to 2010 (Table 11).

2000 2005 2010
Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total
11296 6776 4520 16751 9097 7654 18184 9788 8396
  60% 40%   54% 46%   54% 46%
2000 2005 2010
Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total
22605 11685 10920 36990 18810 18180 42251 21397 20854
  52% 48%   51% 49%   51% 49%
2000 2005 2010
Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total
1980 1167 813 2104 1240 864 2234 1317 917
  59% 41%   59% 41%   59% 41%
2000 2005 2010
Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total
72199 40107 32092 55111 29353 25758 48752 25615 23137
  56% 44%   53% 47%   53% 47%
2000 2005 2010
Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total
1482 839 643 4385 2302 2083 5366 2796 2570
  57% 43%   53% 47%   53% 47%
2000 2005 2010
Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total
2444 1384 1060 2520 1421 1099 4189 2529 1660
  57% 43%   56% 44%   60% 40%
2000 2005 2010
Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total
14873 9740 5133 16034 9740 6294 19940 12942 6998
  65% 35%   61% 39%   65% 35%
2000 2005 2010
Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total
19836 11337 8499 32409 18174 14235 32409 18174 14235
  57% 43%   56% 44%   56% 44%
United States
2000 2005 2010
Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total Total M-Total F-Total
36413 18746 17667 50772 24764 26008 57542 27278 30264
  51% 49%   49% 51%   47% 53%

Table 11: Country-Wise Distribution of Afghan-Immigrants in some parts of the World Between to 2000 to 2010 [33].


Distribution of Afghan Immigrants by Education Level: Distribution of Afghan Immigrants by education level in different years starting from 2000 to 2015 in regular 5 intervals (Table 12).

2000 2005 2010
Total Low Medium High Total Low Medium High Total Low Medium High
1.59% 1.26% 1.16% 4.14% 1.82% 1.34% 1.31% 4.96% 1.91% 1.40% 1.29% 5.31%

Table 12: Distribution of Afghan Immigrants by Education Level [33].

Research methodology

It is important to note, when we intent to make decision about how we should design our research, it is vital to understand the importance of relationship between variables. Generalizing to larger groups of individuals than those actually forming part of the investigation I used convenience sampling research method which is a type of nonprobability sampling collected from population members who are conveniently available to participate in the survey.

My design of research was based on self-completion questionnaires, which a type of quantitative data collection method in which a series of questions are presented to the respondents and they choose from options available. Questions are made simple, clear and not very long.

I used two types of data collection techniques, primary and secondary in order to explore the factors causing brain drain.

For primary data I created questionnaire to get a sample of data from target population that live in Afghanistan and another questionnaire was created to find reasons about people leaves the country from those Afghans who lives abroad.

Data collection was started in the beginning of February and finished the data gathering process until 15 February. Distinct types of questions were used for both questionnaires. A sample number of 71 participants contributed their responses by those who live abroad and 87 participants that live in Afghanistan. Each participant who lives in Afghanistan was presented with 6 questions and 29 questions were included in form intended for the participants who lives abroad.

Before launching my hunt for data collection I made several constructs with many items scales. 5 Likert scale (Strongly disagree, disagree, undecided, agree, strongly agree) were used for each item scale. The main target for my constructs was those Afghan citizens who live overseas, as their opinions are more valuable than those live within Afghanistan and can be considered true actors for my Research.

During the data collection process I come across through numerous challenges and limitations. The 1st challenge was to explain the form to each and every respondents. Some of them would understand with little instruction but a lot of them were related to people who had low education level and needed a lot more time to explain the contents within form. Another challenge was to find people whose relatives or friends are living abroad. Most of the time it would happened that participants would not respond due to sensitivity of the topic for them because of the reason that their asylum application were in progress. So, they would hesitate in filling and submitting the form.

In current world of communication technology, internet and Facebook messengers are giving us opportunity and possibility to get access to a large population in the world.

Social media was used to communicate my questionnaire to the target population. However, more emphasize was given to Facebook Messenger and less to others like VK, Whatsup, Viber etc. The reason for not using Emails was to get immediate response from audiences.

I used social networks to collect data, for example my friends in Facebook, VK and my friends’ friends. Whenever I received a response from a friend I would request to send the questionnaire to others in their friend list.

Research hypothesis

Hypothesis is essentially a ‘tentative proposition which is subject to verification through Subsequent investigation’. In several occasions the researcher tries to detect the relationship between scale items and subject. It therefore can be stated that hypothesis is declaration of relationships between its variables and give support to the researcher of how the original hunch might be tested.

Following are some of the hypothesis that will be tested in my analysis.

H1: There is a relationship between Brain drain and unemployment perception in Afghanistan.

H2: The foreign job opportunities have a positive influence on brain drain.

H3: Social pressure is a factor for brain drain in Afghanistan.

H4: The uncertainty about Afghanistan’s future will influence brain drain.

H5: The expensive weddings in Afghanistan do not affect brain drain.

H6: Educational scholarships have a positive influence on brain drain from Afghanistan.

Hypothesis Testing and Findings

In this chapter, the analysis of data collected will be carried out.

It will be demonstrated that how participants responded to various questions presented to them. I will also try to find whether my hypothesis is proved when pass through some scientific patterns and also I will find powerful push factors from all the variables mentioned in my research constructs. Meanwhile, the demographic characteristics of the sample population will also be analyzed.

In 6.1, we will analyze questionnaire that is collected from participants living in Afghanistan.

In 6.2 and 6.3, the data which are collected from Afghans living abroad will be put under scrutiny.

Demographic profile of Afghans population living in Afghanistan

Section 1: This section was aimed to find out whether people in Afghanistan are willing to go abroad if they were given a chance. For this purpose I did a binomial proportion test, the result shows that people are not happy with the current situation in Afghanistan. Out of 87 participants who took part in the survey, 65 people was on the view that looking to the overall condition of Afghanistan, if they have a chance in hand to leave Afghanistan to go abroad, they will avail the chance. On the other hand 22 participants were satisfied from the current condition of Afghanistan and they had opinion if they were given chance they will reject and will prefer to stay in Afghanistan. Maybe because they belong to a wealthy financial background or due to their high paid jobs (Table 13).

Section 1 If given chance, would you leave your home country and live abroad?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  YES 65 75%
  NO 22 25%
Section 2 If you said yes to the 1st question, where would you go?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  Asia 7 8%
  Europe 45 52%
  Gulf 4 5%
  North America 8 9%
  Other 23 27%
Section 3 If you answered yes to 1st question, how long would you stay abroad?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  Five years 18 20%
  Forever 32 38%
  Ten or more years 19 22%
  Two years 18 20%
Section 4 In your opinion why people prefer to migrate?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  Low number of opportunities 20 23%
  Political Instability 22 25%
  Pressure from society 7 8%
  They feel more comfortable with the lifestyle abroad 11 13%
  To pursue higher education 2700% 31%
Section 5 Do you believe that your country suffers from immigration of highly skilled and educated people?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  YES 68 78%
  NO 19 22%
Section 6 Can brain drain be turned into positive force for development?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  YES 73 84%
  NO 14 16%

Table 13: Demographic profile of Afghans population living in Afghanistan.

Section 2: In this section those participants were asked whose answer was affirmative to the question if they were given chance to go abroad, where they will prefer to go. Five choices were presented to them Asia, Europe, Gulf, North America and other. Out 87 of participants 45 gave their choice for Europe if they were given chance, 23 selected other choice, 8 North America, 7 of them chose Asia and 4 Gulf.

Looking to the current flow of immigrants we saw that Europe was the 1st destiny for migration.

We witnessed a lot of Afghans travelled to Germany, some to France, Finland and others.

Section 3: In 3rd section of questionnaire, the participants who answered positive to 1st question were asked about their duration of stay. From total of 87 participants 32 chose forever, 19 of them selected ten or more years while 18 of them was happy to stay for the duration of two or five years if they were given chance.

From above observations we come to know that mostly people are happy to choose life time stay duration if chance for migration was given to them.

Section 4: In this section, participants were asked about their opinion to choose reasons from the choices given in the questionnaire. We witnessed a more diverse opinion from the participants, each choice were looked to be equally important for participants.

From 86 participants 27 chose reason for their immigration to pursue higher education, 22 gave their opinion for political instability, 20 blamed low number of opportunities in Afghanistan and 11 participants were of the opinion to choose comfortable life styles in foreign countries.

Section 5: In this section participants are asked to state their point of views regarding whether Afghanistan is affected from brain drain.

We realized that majority of the participants agreed from the statement that Afghanistan is under influence of brain drain like of most of the countries in the world. 78% agreed with the opinion and 22% were included in the rejecters as shown by the binomial proportion test.

Section 6: In this last section of the questionnaire conducted from people living in Afghanistan, participants were asked; can brain drain be transformed into positive force for Afghanistan?

It is observed from their responses that the highest percentage of participants gave their response that Afghanistan can gain from this wave of human flight.

84% of the participants give their opinion in the favor of “Yes” while only 16% was against this idea. This is might be because of the reason that prevailing economy of Afghanistan is in a very fragile condition and cannot give employment to skilled and educated youth, so it suites them to migrate rather to waste their life. Afghanistan can gain benefits in a way that, it can encourage remittance inflows and reduces international transaction cost.

Demographic profile and hypothesis testing of the Afghan respondents living abroad

Section 1: In this section Ages of participants took part in the survey are put under analysis. Countries are effected most when brain drain of youth take place which is also the issue of concern for Afghanistan. The survey revealed that maximum number of participants participated in the survey was youth in our sample of the population. In total of 71 participants 47% are between 21 to 25 years, 26% between 26 30, 17% are between 15 to 20 years old (Table 14).

Section 1 Age    
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  Between 15 to 20 12 17%
  Between 21 to 25 33 47%
  Between 26 to 30 19 26%
  Between 31 to 35 4 6%
  Between 36 to 45 3 4%
Section 2 Name of province you belong to in Afghanistan?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  Paktika 5 7%
  Parwan 5 8%
  Panjsher 7 10%
  Nangarhar 8 11%
  Balkh 3 4%
  Farah 4 5%
  Laghman 8 11%
  Kabul 8 11%
  Herat 23 33%
Section 3 Which year did you depart from your country?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  2016 17 25%
  2015 20 28%
  2014 11 15%
  2013 11 15%
  2011 1 2%
  2010 4 6%
  2009 5 8%
  2005 1 2%
Section 4 Name of country you currently live in?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  Canada 5 7%
  France 5 8%
  Germany 11 15%
  U.S.A 4 6%
  UK 4 6%
  UAE 3 4%
  Russia 18 25%
  India 3 4%
  Kuwait 4 6%
  Malaysia 1 2%
  Saudi Arabia 3 4%
  Sweden 3 4%
  Thailand 4 6%
  Turkey 4 6%
Section 5 Do you think this tendency of people leaving Afghanistan has some impact on it?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  YES 58 81%
  NO 13 19%
Section 6 What defines you?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  Student 46 64%
  Business Owner 9 13%
  Employee 16 23%
Section 7 What is your level of Education?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  Bachelor 32 45%
  College 9 13%
  Doctoral 3 4%
  High School 11 15%
  Masters 16 23%
Section 8 What is your academic discipline?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  Advance Material sciences 1 2%
  Business Administration 11 15%
  Computer Science 5 8%
  Economics 15 21%
  Engineering 16 23%
  General Studies 7 9%
  Medical 7 9%
  Political Science 9 13%
Section 9 Do you support financially your relatives living in Afghanistan?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  YES 32 45%
  NO 39 55%
Section 10 Is this country your permanent residence?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  YES 30 42%
  NO 41 58%
Section 11 What is your ethnic background?
  Category Figure Observed Prop.
  Arab 5 8%
  Hazara 7 9%
  Pashtun 23 32%
  Tajik 27 38%
  Turkmen 1 2%
  Uzbek 8 11%

Table 14: Demographic profile and hypothesis testing of the Afghan respondents living abroad

Section 2: In this section, respondents were asked about their hometowns or provinces they belong to in Afghanistan. It is revealed that majority of participants took part in the survey belonged to Herat province which constitute 33% of the sample population. The next comes Kabul and Laghman which is 11% respectively in our sample of population.

Section 3: During the last few years we saw a wave of refugee crisis due to deteriorating internal civil wars in Afghanistan Syria and others. European countries were mostly effected by this wave. Some of the respondents in our sample of population represent students that travelled abroad for getting higher education. Our goal was to understand the demographics of the population by the years they departed from Afghanistan.

After analysis of the sample population we come to know that 28% (20) of the respondents travelled abroad in 2015. Then during the year 2016, 25% (17) of the respondents departed the country. After that comes 2013 and 2014 in which 15% (11), respectively, our respondents took its journey to abroad either for getting higher education or owing to worsen security circumstances.

Section 4: As it is said in the previous section that European countries especially Germany were mostly hit by this refugee crisis which is apparent in the analysis.

Since my data are based on convenience sampling, therefore I could receive responses easily from the participants who were under my reach.

As I am currently based in Russia, hence it will be found that Afghans participants who contributed their responses are mostly from Russia.

25% of the contributions in my survey have been made by Afghans living in Russia. The 2nd most contributors were from Germany which is 15%, then 8% France, after that UK, Kuwait, USA, Thailand and Turkey respectively constitute 6% of the sample population. A small portion (4%) of the responses contributed by Afghans living in Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, India and UAE, respectively.

Section 5: In this section, participants were asked to state their opinion about the trend in which majority of Afghans either leaving or have desire to make their journey to other countries will affect Afghanistan in some ways.

81% of the respondents recorded their perspectives affirmative towards the statement which says that Afghanistan will be affected if this trend continues while 19% was against this argument.

Section 6: Millions of Afghans living through the world are engaged either in earning money or for study purposes. The Table below shows that 64% of our sample population belongs to the student fraternity, 9% of them operate some of kind businesses and 16% belongs to those groups that have employment in different organizations.

Section 7: The fundamental purpose of my study is to collect data about the population sample that have some educational background one way or the other.

Table below shows statistics of the population in terms of their education. The maximum number of respondents in my population sample holds Bachelor degree which is 45%. The next to bachelor degree comes Master’s degree which is 23%. 15% of population have high school certificate, then comes the respondents with College certificate which is 13% and 4% of the population possess 4% have doctoral degree.

Section 8: In this section participants are explained in terms of their Professions. Respondents are asked to state their Professional background. After analysis of the population sample we understood that Engineering is on top in terms of majority in numbers which is 23%. 21% had economics background, 15% of them was either graduated or studying Bachelor of Administration and so on. In some part of Afghanistan, they lack proper doctors like in Paktika province we have only doctor throughout the province. In Afghanistan, we are short of professionals for example, we recruit engineers from neighbor countries.

Section 9: Each and every year billions of dollars are sent by migrant workers to their home countries. According to KNOEMA statistics Afghanistan received 445.22 million US dollar as remittance in 2012. So this can be considered a positive side of brain drain. The main purpose of my latest question was to understand whether the respondents of my survey are sending money to their family in Afghanistan. Out of 71 respondents 32 said they send money to their family and 39 said they don’t send money to their families in Afghanistan.

Section 10: In this section my goal was to know how much of my population sample has citizenship rights in the countries they are living. In view of the fact that we can sense some of respondents have the probability to return to their home country.

Section 11: Afghanistan is a multiethnic society. The population of the country is divided into a wide variety of ethno linguistic groups. Our purpose for this section was to find out the dominant ethnicities who left Afghanistan for different reasons. Our survey statistics shows Tajik is on lead to all other ethnicities which comprises 38% of my sample population. Pashtuns was 2nd in number to Tajik who departed from Afghanistan which encompasses 32% then comes Uzbek which covers 11% of my sample population and so on.

Hypothesis Testing

As stated previously that my main focus in the research is on those people who are living abroad. In my opinion, some people who are living in Afghanistan may reject the probability that they will live in Afghanistan even if they had chance to settle abroad. So, most of the people who are living abroad, have gone through some sufferings, that’s why they preferred to leave country. So, for this purpose the opinions of the participants who live abroad are more valuable in this respect than the participants who live in the original country (Table 15).

Overall Cronback Alpha Number of items
0.873 18

Table 15: Reliability Statistics.

Factor-wise Cronback alpha

In Table 16, a test is conducted to check the reliability of data and also to see that whether random error is causing inconsistency. Additionally, to find whether lower reliability is at manageable level through running Reliability test. From the table above it is clear that the acceptable level of Cronback alpha has been obtained which is 0.873. This indicates that the data has satisfactory internal consistency reliability.

Constructs Variables α
  • There are thousands of students graduating each year from the universities in Afghanistan and abroad which makes difficult for them to find job.
  • Nepotism is one of the reason for unemployment
  • Afghanistan’s government doesn’t have resources to employee graduates.
Job opportunities abroad
  • Top talent is leaving the country because they are attracted to job offers abroad.
  • Attractive salaries abroad are one of the reasons for the human capital flight to some extent.
  • High socioeconomic growth abroad is also an influential factor which motivates youngsters to depart from the country.
Social Pressure
  • Social pressure has a strong influence on people to flee from country.
  • People some feel jealous of their relatives that live overseas, which forces them to go abroad for greener pastures.
  • The pressure to earn more money makes young people to leave the country for abroad.
  • People are under immense anxiety due to overall uncertainty which encourages educated youth to leave the country.
  • Future plans of current USA and NATO forces for Afghanistan are ambiguous.
  • Neighboring countries’ interventions are the main the cause of uncertainty in the country.
Expensive weddings
  • A greater expenditure burden lies on male side of the weddings which become the catalyst for them to leave country because of their inability to meet their marriage expenses.
  • High dowries makes difficult for the people to get married, so they are compelled to flee to other country in order to save money for marriage.
  • Unwanted societal traditions and customs is one of the reasons for making marriages expensive.
Educational Scholarships
  • Educational Scholarships available internationally makes many talented youth to leave the country for abroad and some of them are unlikely to return back.
  • An agreement should exist between Afghanistan and host countries to counter this phenomenon.
  • The government of Afghanistan’s failure to provide scholarship opportunities to intelligent students will force them to look for opportunities abroad.

Table 16: Factor-wise Cronback Alpha.

Hypothesis 1

a) There are thousands of people graduating each year from the universities in Afghanistan and abroad which makes it difficult for the people to find jobs.

b) Nepotism is one of the reasons for unemployment.

c) Afghanistan's government doesn't have the resources to employ graduates.

d) 0 cells (0.0%) have expected frequencies less than 5. The minimum expected cell frequency is 14.2.

0 cells (0.0%) have expected frequencies less than 5. The minimum expected cell frequency is 17.8.

It was hypothesized that there is a relationship between the Brain Drain and unemployment perception in Afghanistan. When Chi Square Test was applied on the data, I came to understand that there is strong relationship between Unemployment and Brain drain.

As the observed P-value is less than α value (0.05), so it can be concluded that alternate H1 is accepted and we can say unemployment factors has great influence on people leaving Afghanistan.

Hypothesis 2

Employment opportunities abroad: It was hypothesized that overseas employment opportunities encourages People in Afghanistan to migrate to other countries.

In order to test the hypothesis, one sample T-test was applied on the data. We obtained high T-value of 14.674 and our α-value is also less than 0.05 which indicates that H2 is accepted.

So, it is concluded that factors related to job opportunities abroad such as the job attractions itself, their attractive salaries and the greed to earn more which in the people’s view can be achieved when they travel and get job in foreign countries.

Hypothesis 3

Our 3rd hypothesis was about social pressure factors causing brain drain in Afghanistan. Binomial test was used on data which indicates that 94% of the sample population believe that a Social pressure factor motivates people in Afghanistan to leave for foreign countries. The P-value is less than α value of (0.05) so, H3 is accepted.

From the data analysis it was found that social pressures elements such as jealousy from their relatives who lives abroad and the pressure to earn more money to match the society status has powerful inspiration for the people to travel abroad.

Hypothesis 4

It was hypothesized in this part that prevailing Uncertainty in Afghanistan does not cause human flight (Brain Drain) from Afghanistan.

We used one sample T-test to analyze the hypothesis, the high mean value (4.5) of variables from the sample of population suggest that there is a strong bond between prevailing Uncertainty and Brain drain from Afghanistan.

The P-value of tested data confirms that H4 is rejected and Null Hypothesis is accepted and we can say that the factors that is mentioned in the variables such as ambiguous future plans of NATO forces and USA which currently Afghanistan is fully dependent on, makes the security situation of Afghanistan uncertain which in turn pushes most of the educated Youth of Afghanistan to leave the country for better futures.

Hypothesis 5

a) A greater expenditure burden lies on the male side of the weddings which become the catalyst for them to leave country because of their inability to meet their marriage expenses.

b) High Dowries makes difficult for the people to get married, so they are compelled to flee to other country in order to save money for marriage.

c) Unwanted societal traditions and customs is one of the reasons for making marriages expensive.

d) 0 cells (0.0%) have expected frequencies less than 5. The minimum expected cell frequency is 14.2. It was hypothesized in the section that the expensive weddings in Afghanistan does not influence Brain drain from Afghanistan.

Chi square test is used to test the data I found that, the elements mentioned above i.e., greater expenditure burden on Male side of weddings, unnecessary societal traditions and customs and high dowries in marriages has greater impact on brain drain phenomenon. The P-value implies that H5 is rejected and null hypothesis is accepted.

Hypothesis 6

Descriptive statistics: It was hypothesized that Educational Scholarships abroad has a positive influence on brain drain from Afghanistan. After analysis of the data from given sample of population it is clear that the factors related to Educational scholarships to Afghans from abroad such as Government’s failure to provide quality education to Afghans and their less probability to return back takes away talented youth from Afghanistan.

It evident from P-value which is less than α value of 0.5 and also from the high mean value of 4.05, Null hypothesis is rejected and on this basis H6 is accepted.

Dominant Factors Effecting Brain Drain from Afghanistan

We put all the six Constructs under investigation in our research. As we know that the more less is the Standard Error Mean and on the other hand the greater is the Mean of the construct, the stronger is the factor (Table 17).

    Mean N Std. Deviation Std.Error Mean
Pair 1 Unemployment 12.8 71 1.849 0.219
  Job opportunities Abroad 11.87 71 2.329 0.276
Pair 2 Social. Pressure 13.13 71 1.748 0.207
  Uncertainty 13.55 71 1.285 0.152
Pair 3 Expensive. Weddings 10.72 71 2.958 0.351
  Educational. Scholarships 12.14 71 2.565 0.304

Table 17: Paired samples statistics.

We saw in the above table that Uncertainty proves to be the stronger factor in all constructs which forces Afghan Youth to leave the country. When we rank the stronger factors affecting the brain drain we find that Uncertainty comes first, the 2nd factor is Social Pressure, the 3rd is unemployment, the 4th is educational scholarships, 5th factor in rank is job opportunities abroad and the least strong factor is Expensive weddings.


At a time when we see large of number of youth taking their path towards European countries, the government of Afghanistan is putting some steps in stopping this tendency. However, this phenomenon can also bring benefit to both countries. The source country receives remittances and the migrated country can use the skill of youth in their economic development. In this part of our study, we will discuss the various factors that influences the youth to leave the country and take reside in different parts of the world. Further we will also discuss their demographics and their opinions regarding the questions that we put forward to them.

In this context, the flow of human capital can be determined through several socioeconomic and political factors. For example Nganga has stated some of the factors like high fees, shortage of lecturers and insufficient facilities becomes a push factor for Kenyans to work and study abroad. Moreover, according to Glennie and Chappell (2010) which found 5 causes that makes the skilled and educated youth to leave the country. It consists of wages, employment, professional development, and socioeconomic political conditions and networks.

The research objectives in my survey had somewhat the same type of factors that had to be analyzed behind the flow of youth heading towards European and some other countries on such a large scale. As mentioned in chapter 2 about the high wedding costs that become the reason of social conflict and family disputes in Afghanistan. There are some incidences of youth that has commit suicide or has left the country to earn money in order to cover marriage expenses. The participants in my survey has considered this as a prominent issue for youth and high dowries and others extra societal traditions makes the marriage tough for the youth of Afghanistan. Although Afghan government has passed a bill which has restricted the marriages expenses to $3,500 but still people are waiting for government’s action in this regard. We put our questions under test to check the relationship between the unemployment items and brain drain from Afghanistan we found that the maximum number of respondents had opinions about the factors such as nepotism, lack of government resources and large number of graduates each year from Universities, play positive role for young Afghans to leave the country. Constitution of Afghanistan allows every citizen of Afghanistan to get equal access to job opportunities. However, there is high scale of nepotism in different ministries of Afghanistan in job hiring and promotions.

In order to stop skilled worker from migration government has to put serious steps to curb this constraints and make sure the constitutional right of every Afghan to have job. To the role of high level of uncertainty in Afghanistan in pushing youths to take a decision about leaving the country, the respondents in the survey favored the notion that uncertainty is one of the cause along with other factors like unwillingness of big powers such as USA and NATO in bringing peace in Afghanistan is a push factor for some Afghans to depart from country. The political elite along with other big figures has to unite and try to convince the stack holders that it is beneficial for every country to be peace in Afghanistan. Otherwise world will witness this flood of refugees more intense in coming years. Since the past several decades Pakistan has involvement in destabilization and has its own vested interests in Afghanistan. Hence, it is important for the world specially USA to take note of Pakistan supporting insurgency which raising uncertainty in Afghanistan.

Having job abroad has become a question of identity for people. It is considered a status symbol. Some think if they go abroad, the future life of their children will be secured. Today’s youth are much fantasied by the lavish style of livings in the west and they imagine as if they depart from Afghanistan, they will easily find employment and will become rich. In our survey it was hypothesized that there is a connection between young generations going for migration and the job opportunities abroad. The respondents accepted the idea of foreign job opportunities effect on youth leaving the country. It has been understood from some Afghan immigrants living in different countries that they did not have the same privileges that they were entitled to in Afghanistan. Most often they cannot pick jobs according to their professions.

In most of the remote villages of Afghanistan, pressure from the community members whose relatives are abroad are so high that they push the other people within the society to go abroad. To understand this phenomenon we tried to find relationship between rate of migration and social pressures. The respondents’ views did not differ from the idea that social pressure has a role in encouraging people to leave the country. In reaching to these objective families sometime sell their properties in order to send their loved ones abroad. To avoid such incidents of putting the children’s lives at risk, government has a responsibility to educate them about the dangers that their children my encounter when once they go on a travel to Europe or other country.

It is a good move for students to get scholarships and go for higher education because some of them are not in a position to afford higher education in Afghanistan due to lack of funds or poverty. The problem arises when these students get their degrees abroad and decide not to return to Afghanistan. For this purpose, we asked our respondents to state their opinions regarding students going abroad for getting higher education and their unlikeliness to return to Afghanistan, majority of the participants agreed that students after graduation choose to live permanently and does not return back to Afghanistan. It is important to mention that Administrative office of the president of Afghanistan has started a program with the name of Tashweeq 2016 which encourages young graduates studied from universities in different parts of the world to take part in nation building process by applying for one of the jobs online. The process is very transparent and based strictly on merit. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that Afghanistan should sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the countries where Afghan graduates should be sent back to Afghanistan after graduation. We have some stories of Afghans who went on scholarship program to western countries and didn’t return to Afghanistan after graduation.

Looking to the different aspects of Afghanistan, the employment crisis, the security situation and the future uncertainty factor hanging over Afghanistan, the importance of people adopting migration as an alternative cannot be neglected. As it is known that brain drain is a problem but at the same time this move have some advantages to countries as well.

First, brain drain can bring remittances from abroad. According to World Bank report developing countries received $25 billion dollars as remittance in 2010. Tajikistan was one of the leading countries which received more than 3rd of its GDP through remittances. In 2015, Afghanistan received more $300 million as remittance from abroad. So, it looks lucrative business. At same time Afghanistan need some energetic youth who can take control of country’s vital affairs.

To conclude Afghans can only be stopped from migration if Government initiate programs where every Afghan feel they can earn a dignified life in Afghanistan. The first priority of the government should be to bring peace in Afghanistan because the solutions of the major problems are linked with the security. Moreover, it has been observed that within the ministries of Afghanistan jobs are mostly given on ethnic bases. In some ministries there is rule of Tajiks while in others jobs are distributed on being Pashtun or Hazara. Also there is nepotism barrier for majority of Afghans when they go to hunt for jobs. All afore mentioned factors create frustrations within the young members of the society which compels Afghan youth to see for other alternatives in which one of them is migration.


Foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my Supervisor Professor Dmitry Berg for the continuous support of my Thesis study and research. His guidance helped me in all the time of research and writing of this thesis.

Besides my supervisor, I also thank my fellow classmates Mr. Ismaila Bojang, Najibullah Loodin and Rashid Abban for the encouragement, useful comments and support.

Last but not the least, I would like to thank my family: my parents for giving birth to me at the first place and supporting me spiritually throughout my life.


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