Brain gain or brain circulation? U.S. doctoral recipients returning to South Korea

Jenny J. Lee, Dongbin Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations


This study explored the reasons for current reverse mobility patterns in South Korea and how the country benefits from returning U.S. doctoral recipients in the forms of brain gain and brain circulation. Based on interviews of Korean faculty who studied in the U.S., this study found that while the political economy might help to explain why Korean students choose to study in the U.S., it does not fully capture their decisions to return. Family ties and cultural reasons transcended reasons related to economic mobility. The study also found that while both brain gain and brain circulation were present, brain adaptation was especially prevalent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-643
Number of pages17
JournalHigher Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2010



  • Brain circulation
  • Brain gain
  • Faculty
  • International students
  • Korea
  • Student mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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