Iran’s Economy Blighted by Brain Drain

Over 5,000 Iranians arrive each year to study in the United States. According to a report in 2011 by the State Department, that number increases by nearly 20% each year.

Many of those who leave Iran will not return. A survey in 2012 by the National Science Foundation based in Washington, D.C. said that 89% of the doctoral students from Iran in the U.S. remain in the United States following their graduation, which is equal to Chinese for the highest percentage of every nationality in the U.S. surveyed.

Shargh, the Iranian newspaper said that 140 of the 225 students that had participated from 1993 to 2007 in the International Science Olympiads were abroad at leading colleges and universities.

While Iranians have been leaving the country since well before the Islamic revolution in 1979, the decline in the economy and the disputed election that was presided over by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the predecessor to Rouhani, spurred on another wave of Iranians leaving for other countries.

An increasing amount of angry rhetoric towards Israel and the U.S. and strident defiance for calls on monitoring of the nuclear program in Iran led to deeper isolation and tighter sanctions.

However, a repair job has started. Iran earned more than $7 billion in sanctions relief under an interim nuclear program accord in November. The secretive nation is hoping to sign a permanent accord before July.

In February, inflation slowed down to 23% which was a low of two years and the IMF has forecast that the economy would expand by 1.5% in 2014 which is the first time that has happened in three years.

While no official data is available, graduates who recently started to work in Iran are earning just $500 at most per month.

Under a five year economic program that is currently going on, that started in 2010, close to 2.5% of the country’s GDP was allotted for technology and science research. However, one insider said the actual amount being invested is far less than that.

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